A quick video of me unboxing the 2014 3AA Membership pack.. full review coming soon!
A quick video of me unboxing the 2014 3AA Membership pack.. full review coming soon!
The last two years I attended San Diego Comic Con, I carried on my iphone a virtual shopping list full of con exclusives and random merch I planned to hunt down and pay ridiculous amounts of money to obtain. I’d spend the lion’s share of my time at the con working my way back and forth across the show floor attempting to cross everything off it. I’d end up flying back home with two or three bags and a suitcase full of goodies, toys, comics, shirts and the general swag you collect over the grueling, yet enjoyable 4-5 day geek-fest.
This year however, I simplified. I had a single, solitary toy on my list. Just one. 1000Toys Synthetic Human Test Body which was being sold exclusively at the Bluefin booth. 1000Toys, for those not in the know, haven’t been cranking out figures very long. In fact, this is their first con exclusive and only their second figure to officially release. The first being the original Synthetic Human. I was excited and anxious to be a part of that relatively small group of people who could get their mitts on an awesome looking toy from a fairly young, promising company.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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)
A big thanks to ThreeA for getting Midas out to us! Lily ^ thanks you too. ~ knives
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When I was a kid, you could probably list my significant interests on a single line of paper. Super heroes, ninjas, robots, monsters, comic books and movies with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford or Michael J. Fox in them. Like a lot of kids my age, ridiculous or not, I loved action-packed entertainment.
If it had a robot or some promise of karate, I wanted to know all about it. I was obsessed with the stuff. Lucky for me, the 80’s pretty much banked on those concepts. It wasn’t about the quality, it was about the quantity of how many in-your-face explosions and muscle bound heroes they could shove in front of you. Watching those same movies now, mature me can certainly see how my tastes failed me in my youth. Most of these “films” are tragically terrible. I think this realization is what has had me avoiding the vast majority of “action-packed” movies as an adult. Nowadays, I find that I can’t comfortably roll with the cheesy cinema.
A good example of cheesy cinema was last year’s robot fighting movie, Real Steel. It was big and flashy, with some cool, realistically rendered robots (thanks to Dreamwork’s CGI chops) punching each other over and over again in the face. End scene. The storyline seemed as though it was essentially ripped from Stallone’s 80’s flick, “Over the Top”. Some movie exec took that thin prose and married it with Rock’m, Sock’m Robots. My skepticism was pretty high so it was passed over while in the theater only to be picked up months later when it became available on DVD. I didn’t expect it to be very good and big surprise, it wasn’t.
But what I also didn’t expect was that I actually liked it. For the first time in years, I embraced the cheese and enjoyed it. Something about the film tapped into that 80’s nostalgia that used to push my buttons when I was a kid. Maybe it had something to do with how disappointing all the Transformer films have been. Here were these giant, cool looking robots beating the crap out of each other. As a youth, that would have been all I needed to dive head first into bugging my parents to buy me as many of the related action figures as the family’s “spoiled only child” budget would allowed. The story and acting was completely secondary.. nay, THIRD-ary. It wasn’t Shakespeare, it wasn’t art, it was just cool to see big robots beating the heck out of each other.
So, what am I getting at?
3A, one of the top high-end action figure toy manufacturers in the world, signed a fat deal with Dreamworks to make high-end figures based off the Real Steel franchise. When I first heard about it, I thought it’d be quite the conundrum for collectors. On one hand, it’s robots and 3A is ah-maze-ing at making robots. Probably the best out there. On the other hand, it’s a robot from a movie that wasn’t very good to begin with and isn’t really that popular with anyone who is old enough to afford 3A robots.
With all of 3A’s other toy lines tying up my play money, it was pretty easy for me to pass when the first figure, Ambush, was up for pre-order. While I thought the film was fun and the pictures 3A used to show him off looked intriguing with all of his intricate-looking, gear-supported articulation, it wasn’t quite enough to rally my interest and loosen my purse strings.
A few weeks back I got a surprising email from 3A that they wanted to send me Ambush to review. This was a definite first and something I was very excited about. Still, I was a little hesitant because I didn’t feel that jazzed about a Real Steel robot. I tried to keep an open mind and wait for him to show up. I had no doubt that the figure would be at the very least… neat. The thing I wanted to see most was if Ambush was cool enough for me to be able to ignore the franchise and simply be interested in a cool robot for the sake of a cool robot, much like the ten year old me would have done back in the day.
Well sir, the delivery man has arrived and it’s time to answer that question.
The outside of the box is pretty minimalistic. A logo here and there with some of Ambush’s stats on the inside flap. My favorite stat being, “Cost – Won him in a bet”. Said flap has a magnet that keeps the lid secure. Upon opening it, I found that Ambush received one of the best packaging jobs from 3A yet. There’s several layers of molded dense foam between you and your robot, each piece carefully placed to protect all the delicate bits. If you have a Blind Cowboy/Ghost Horse set, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect here.
For starters, there’s that hard to ignore, giant blue robot, Ambush..
If you ordered yours from Bambaland, you’ll also receive the exclusive little robo-remote. Don’t lose too much sleep if your order doesn’t include one because, while it’s a nice looking accessory, without anyone to hold it, I’ll most likely keep it in the box instead of having it on display.
Bummer alert, batteries for Ambush’s eye lights are not included. However, a small slip of paper on the inside flap describes how to install them once you rustle some up.
My first impression, Ambush is one nice looking robot. There are so many gears and tubes running all over this guy, it’s a bit of a marvel that 3A pulled this off so elegantly. He looks, needless to say, very accurate to the film. If he’s not made up of 100% all new parts, he’s at least scoring in the high 90’s. Scanning him over, I can’t seem to find anything that 3A reused from their previous robots. I’m not seeing a Bertie, Bramble or Dropcloth anywhere amongst the detailed assets.
The overall build of Ambush is a mix of solid plastic and some slightly flexible shell-like pieces. On his back especially, there are strips of decorative parts that seem a little delicate, though they do have some give to them that keeps them from feeling overly brittle. Thankfully, they’re not really in areas where you’re likely to put much pressure when posing him.
There’s definitely a lot going on with various layers of highly detailed robo-parts overlapping other highly detailed robo-parts. Everything blends together cohesively and believably. One thing that really impressed me was that there are no visible ball-joints like those found on 3A’s own robot designs. Everything is structured to and succeeds in looking like a believable 1:whatever scale of the actual robot, if he were an actual robot.
Ambush is covered in the Triple Ds, dings, dents and damage. There’s the kind of stuff you’d expect from 3A in terms of scratches and overall molded-in weathering which are, of course, apparent. But what’s impressive is all the dented areas that look legitimately torn up. Beyond his signature dented “snarled” lip, there are various edges of the sculpt that are crinkled and sport believable battle damage appropriate for the not-so-successful fighting robot that Ambush is supposed to be. The asymmetry of the damage also adds significantly to his realism. Take all that and combine it with the paint work and it’s pretty difficult to tell if what you’re looking at is plastic or an actual metal robot.
Speaking of paint work…
The paint application on Ambush is next to none. It’s hands down one of, if not the, best paint work I’ve seen on a 3A robot. I’m not exaggerating. You can tell a lot of time and care went into the detailing. Rust looks good and crusty while stripped away bits of paint show shiny steel underneath. The only parts that do not share the same impressive application are the tiny pistons that support Ambush’s articulation. This was probably a good call to ensure that as stuff moved around, it didn’t become funked up over time. I do wish that 3A went with actual metal rods here instead of the clean plastic ones as I think it’d look better overall, but what’s here works well.
So he’s a marvel to look at but how does he dance?
Well, from a technical standpoint, he’s amazing. For example, when you twist his wrists, 4 little pistons rotate, expanding and contracting with the motion. Similar gears are at work at almost every articulation point and it just looks fantastic. The thing about Ambush is that it isn’t just how he moves, it’s how his various parts work together and how they look when he moves. He’s a plastic machine of independently moving parts working together. It’s a joy to see.
The Good: Ambush has a really solid range of motion in his shoulders, elbows and wrists. I didn’t figure it out until near the end of our shoot that his wrists not only turn, but bend up and down. You can get most of the rock’m sock’m poses you’d want to out of him. He can get a fairly wide stance to help balance his upper body heft. His legs, particularly his knees, ankles and the balls of his feet, work really well to keep him from toppling over, as well as give you a few nice pose options. Some smaller articulated garnishes include his mouth and wee thumbs.
The Bad: The neck joint doesn’t hold a turn. It simply springs back to facing forward when you let go of it. You can move his head up and down as well as cock his head side to side where it stays as it should, but an unmanned left to right position isn’t possible. Despite the fancy neck pistons, I can’t figure out why 3A designed it that way since it appears so similar to the wrist joint in function.
The waist articulation feels a little more limited than I expected it to be. There’s a few sliding parts that overlap each other that gives a nice visual effect when he bends and twists, but I think they might hinder his movement some as well. It’s probably a trade-off. I just wish the extremes of his possible articulation were a little more.. extreme.
Lastly, the hip joints for Ambush are the tightest I’ve experienced from 3A. I held my breath every time I set him up for a shot. I’m not sure if the inherent tightness of the joint was purposeful or not, but thankfully, it looks like 3A used a heavier duty post to support the extra strain. No snapping sounds yet.
The Ugly: I have one last small issue with Ambush. In a way, it’s actually more of a compliment and a testament to how good this guy looks.
Thanks to how well 3A crafted all the excellent, intricate gears and details on Ambush’s body, it can be a little difficult to tell exactly what SHOULD and SHOULD NOT move. His knees, for example, look like they should be double jointed. Trust me, they are not. Due to the stiff joints 3A toys sometimes experience when you first get them, you tend to have to apply a good deal of pressure to knock them free. There are definitely areas on Ambush you might be tempted to apply some pressure to, going off appearances alone, when you most certainly shouldn’t. This, of course, could lead to needlessly breaking parts off your shiny new (and pricey) toy.
My suggestion would be for 3A to include in future releases of their more intricate figures, a small printed sheet that illustrates the various articulation points on the toy. This isn’t out of the question as I’ve seen several other toy manufacturers do that exact thing, so hopefully 3A will consider it.
For Ambush’s photo shoot we wanted to do something special. So my ever supportive wife suggested that we hike up to the “pill boxes” (two lookout posts leftover from WWII) that overlook the beautiful Hawaiian beach of Lanikai and the two offshore islands, the Mokes. I was a little nervous stuffing the big guy into my tiny backpack, but he made the journey just fine. It’s always fun doing location photo shoots and that morning was no exception. With so many details on him, photographing Ambush was a real treat. I do wish I had figured out before we set out for the shoot that there were no batteries pre-installed. There were a few points during the day where I know some menacing looking eye-lights would have been super cool.
THE FINAL WORD
Ambush isn’t going to change your mind about the movie Real Steel, but 3A may change your mind about Ambush.
They knocked it out of the park. He’s definitely one of those toys that you can see where the money went. From paint, to construction, to articulation, he’s really top notch. It’s a true achievement in terms of articulated robotic action figures. So much so, it’s what you’ll want to see in every 3A bot. Admittedly, I’ll probably find myself at least marginally disappointed by future 3A bot releases if they don’t have the same obvious attention to detail Ambush does. I understand corners have to be cut occasionally.. but now that I’ve seen what’s possible, it’s going to be very hard to go backwards.
So the big question is, should you buy 3A’s Real Steel Ambush? Well, to answer that, we have to clear up a few things first.
If you answered all 3 of the questions with “yes”.. then you probably already have Ambush on the way or you’re in the process of clicking the “buy button” somewhere.
If you answered question 1 as “no”.. then I’m really not sure why you’re reading this article and you are dismissed!
If you answered questions 1 and 2 as “yes”.. then don’t hesitate another second to shell out for Ambush.
If you answered 2 as “no” then see question 3.
If you answered 1 and 3 “yes”, then once again, I’d urge you to confidently hunt one down. I’m telling you, you’ll be very happy with your decision.
My gushing over the quality and attention to detail withstanding, you’ve probably already decide whether or not Ambush deserves a place on your shelf. I’m not here to try and change your mind about that. What I do hope I’ve managed to do is to shed some light on just how well 3A put this guy together. I want to put to rest any fears you may have had about whether or not they can deliver on the goods. Personally, thanks to this experience, I’m really looking forward to Atom being released. He’s easily my favorite from the film, and the prototype 3A teased at HK Venture already looks sick.
If you hated the film, and hated the robot designs, then there’s probably nothing for you here other than some amazingly shot photos (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). On the other hand, despite your feelings about the franchise itself, if you think Ambush is a really cool looking robot, then I know you’ll find a lot to enjoy by having him in your collection.
He’s positively one of the finest pieces 3A has put out to date…
that is, until Metal Gear Rex finally ships. 🙂
A big thanks to Kim and Cody for getting this guy out to us! It was a pleasure. ~ knives