*Review* 3A Shadow and Light Tomorrow King Oya Two Pack

INTRO

I just spent a good 15 minutes perusing the internet for a quote that said something poignant about overcoming an obstacle or taking up a difficult challenge head on. “No guts, no glory”, that sort of thing. I was searching for something to set the tone and portray a sense of how I felt about winning the Shadow and Light set. A one liner, a “zinger”, a single phrase that could fulfill the entire needs of a proper article introduction. Instead, everything I came across had been tirelessly plastered as off-the-cuff Facebook status updates or otherwise publicized to death, thus sucking all the marrow of meaning from the words contained within. After reading dozens of these once-were-so-inspiring/my-how-cynical-I-must-be-to-feel-otherwise quotes, I decided to scrap the idea and instead go a more traditional route by giving a possibly over wrought rundown of the events leading to me winning this coveted set.

When Ashley Wood/3A announced the animation contest for the Shadow and Light set I almost didn’t enter it. The thing about 3D.. anything, is that it takes a lot of time to do. Exspecially if you’re doing it all from the ground up. I’ve been working as a character artist and animator for years, but my free time to devote to such an undertaking like this wasn’t (still isn’t) at all what I felt it needed to be. Given the one month deadline, my first thought was that I wouldn’t have the time to devote to it in order to pull off something I’d be really happy with..

My saving grace was that the day following the announcement, I had an idea that seemed a lot like a genuinely good and unique one. Something that I felt would go the opposite direction of the competition and hopefully set my work apart from the rest of the crowd. It was simple, cute and most importantly, something I knew I could get together in the given time-frame.

I’ve never been one to ignore inspiration.

I kissed and hugged my supportive wife goodbye, knowing well that in order to get everything together I wouldn’t be seeing her much over the remainder of the month. Every ounce of free time available to me was dedicated to the project. I set to work on modeling, texturing, rigging, animating, rendering, picking music, creating sound and the final post effects for the project. From the day the concept hit, right up to the last (original) day of the contest, I raced/worked.

Ash decided on the last day of the contest to extend it another 2 weeks. While a good thing for some, it definitely took a bit of the wind out of my sails. I was tired and felt all the momentum I’d experienced up to that point completely lapse. I’d pushed myself and put in some seriously long hours to complete the piece in the given time. Now with this extension in play, I simply had no more time or frankly, energy to put into it. I’d put off actual paying work, time with family and personal hygiene (joking!) for far too long. As a steady stream of some very strong animation submissions started to come in, I knew competition was going to be stiff. The best I could do at that point was to cross not only my fingers, but also all my toes and simply wait it out.

Well, you know the end of this story.

I won…

along with 4 others. A surprising, but awesome gesture by Ash to spread the Shadow and Light love, if only by a little.

If you’re curious, you can click the image above to check out my animation.

I spoke to Ash at SDCC about the set and he not only shared how excited he was about how awesome the set turned out, but also how humbling it was for him that anyone would take their time to contribute artwork/animation based off his creations. He was really proud of that and rightly so.

Skip ahead several long months later and my set has finally arrived.

Before I jump to the review I want to give full marks to all that took the time to enter the race and heartfelt fist bumps to those who also won a set. A big thank you to 3A! Thank you Mr Wood! I love these guys and feel honored to be included amongst the winners circle!

PACKAGING

I’m the proud owner of a one of a kind Shadow and Light TK set.

“But wait! There were other winners!”, I hear you exclaim!

It’s one of a kind because it has my name written neatly across the box in black sharpie. I have no idea who at the hatchery did the honors. I’m also unaware if it bothered the other recipients to have their set “defaced” by such cruel permanent markings. But me, I’m for it. It makes it feel personal.

One small difference between this set and previous 3A toys is that it was not shrink-wrapped. Just boxed, labeled and sent. Score one for the environment..

As you can see, the box sports some cropped photography of the pair on one side and a cool stencil style 3A logo (plus me given name) on the other.

WHAT’S INCLUDED

Two TKs. One black, one white. The dynamic duo come with two of their own color coordinated long swords.

Natch.

THE BREAKDOWN

I don’t feel I can really “review” this set in the truest sense of the word simply because one does not “review” or “judge” a reward/gift. If Grandma gave me brown socks for Christmas this year.. again, I’d smile, kiss her on the cheek and thank her. They’d most-like be thrown in the bin with the rest of the collection, never to be worn or seen again, but Memaw would be none the wiser.

That’s how it should be.

Of course you could argue that it’s not like I didn’t do anything for these guys. I did put in a ton of hours and toiled over the particulars. I’d certainly paid in time for the set many times over. But I don’t look at it that way. I look at it as a gift.

Simply put, it’s not polite to gripe about the gifts you receive. Not to say I have any gripes. Just if I did.. in this case, I wouldn’t tell you.

My reaction of the set right away was a sort of quiet “stun”. I’m not sure if it was the months of anticipation bubbling forth or what, but when I opened them up, I just starred at them for several minutes before even touching or removing them from their plastic packaging. I’ve never been very interested in the negro or blanco color schemes 3A puts out, however sitting in front of me as a set I can comfortably say they look amazing.

Light and Shadow are basically the same character top to the bottom as 3A’s 7bones member, Kyoku. The only real difference being the obvious color, or lack thereof. Shade, to be precise.

The head sculpt all 3 figures share are actually from last year’s Slicer Tomorrow Kings, Baka and Kyuuketsuki. Scar and all. It may not be my favorite TK head sculpt, but it’s dynamic and fun to pose.

One thing that really stands out to me is how squeaky clean the TK’s themselves are. Not a speck of dirt on their “skin”. Their clothes on the other hand, have a light dusting of weathering throughout. At SDCC this year, Ashley Wood told me that the set would have been done earlier, but he felt that the clothing needed a “touch of weathering to feel finished”. I’m sure some would argue that they’d look better sparkling clean top to bottom but for me, I really like the contrast.

It’s like they take showers, but can’t wash their clothes. Poor guys.

The Oya jackets are the usual high quality, impressively sewn articles. They look fantastic on and offer a wide array of dramatic pose possibilities. While I love the jackets, I’m considering setting these guys up jacketless as I have so many Oyas already littering my shelf.

We’ll see. I’ll let balance/aesthetics ultimately decide.

I really like that the teeshirt decals work best when you place the pair next to each other to form 3A’s logo. It’s a simple thing, but well thought out and melds these two together.

As I posed them for the various shots, I came to realize that despite their simple color scheme, these figures have plenty of character.

My take on them comes from a clichéd or otherwise well worn part of my imagination which seemed to dictate every pose I put them in.

Shadow is quiet and brooding. When he strikes it’s exact and efficient, not showy. He stays in the background and tries to go unnoticed. Light on the other hand seems as though he’d be much more animated, quick to act and stylistic in his motions. He stands in the front, brash and ready to lunge into action.

They are Yin/Yang and completely inseparable. Like their names, you can’t have one without the other.

THE FINAL WORD

That’s about all I have to say about this lovely set. A more in depth review of the particulars of this type (TK Oyabun) of figure will come in the form of my upcoming Kyoku review, but for now understand that I have some new favorites in my collection.

I will say that shooting the pair together had it’s own challenges thanks to my camera’s apeture trying to favor one figure or the other. I had many shots that I felt were going to turn out awesome that, once loaded on the computer were completely blurry and unusable. Regardless, I hope you’ve enjoyed the few I’ve put together here. Eventually, I’ll post even more on our Flickr and Facebook pages.

I’d want to encourage anyone who’s even remotely interested to get involved in the next contest 3A comes along with. I had a ton of fun in creating my animated short, despite it’s challenges. If you’re passionate about different things like drawing, design, photography, animation, toys, etc.. and they somehow correlate and come together in the form of a world wide contest, why wouldn’t you?

I’ve heard some who claim that these type of contests are a grand waste of time, or a matter of all us collectors jumping through hoops simply so 3A can gain some sort of free marketing. A bit of “dance monkey, dance”, “lick dog, lick” or whatever animal to mind controlled robot comparison is in fashion now. My thing is, if you enjoy doing it, it makes you happy and there’s an opportunity to get rewarded for your efforts, why should it matter to anyone else?

You know what? Screw those guys and their negativity. They certainly don’t have a Shadow and Light set..

nor should they.

PROS:

  • An amazingly lovely set that’s a true treasure in my collection

CONS:

  • None

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*Review* 3A WWR Punter Bot Sniper

INTRO

“I have too many Grunts.”

That was my first thought as I unpacked my minty fresh, right off the boat, Bot Sniper. I have EMGY, Jungler, Stealth, DIY and now Punter.

“Why do I keep buying Grunts?”

That was the first thing I asked myself as I unpacked my minty fresh etc, etc…

It’s also a question I already know the answer to. I keep buying Grunts because they are awesome and incredibly difficult to pass up. Historically, all of them have been loaded to the gills (or ghillies? Whamp whaaa..) with gear. You buy just one of them and you have dozens of various load outs and looks you can set up. I think that’s what I like about them so much. Despite their same-ness, they’re all about variety. You can have 4 of the same exact Grunt and have each one look completely different. Gas-mask on/off, helmet on/off, vest on/off, jacket on/off.. you get the idea.

Of all the Grunts, The Punter promised to be the MOST exciting (for me) to date. The words “bot sniper” sent electric pulses from my brain deep into the nerves of my index finger, causing it to twitch over the “buy now” button. I steadied my hand, took a deep breath and as I slowly exhaled, clicked the button.

The wait is over and he’s here. I’ve had several days to play around with him and take some photos. He’s chilling on my shelf right now, displayed in a relaxed pose on the ledge. He’s part of my ever expanding collection, which as I look it over I find myself saying,

“I have too many Grunts.”

PACKAGING

3A continues their fine tradition of plopping some killer Ashley Wood art on the frontside of their boxes. Most of the time, the front of their boxes sport some A. Wood art  while the rest has some minimalistic design business to fill space. In this case, it seems like they went just a little further with it by adding a fun “bot killing point system” embellishment to the side.

One of my favorite 3A posters from SDCC 2012 also happens to be the graphic for the back of the box. DC target practice!

WHAT’S INCLUDED

Punter seems to come with a good deal less “stuff” than the previous Grunts. No jacket, no shield, no helmet, no backpack(s), no multitudes of guns.. all in all, a little less equipped. Lean and mean. The trade offs in gear include his ghillie suit, boonie hat, pistol and that little sniper rifle you may have to squint to notice at the bottom of the pic.

THE BREAKDOWN

I was super excited to get this guy. In just about any online FPS video game I play, 9 out of 10 I go with a sniper. I think I have an affinity for the sneaky, unseen kill shot. To me, it’s way more fun to find some cozy little nook in a tree or bush somewhere with a clear eye-line than to rush in head first into the fray. Ninjas, snipers and thieves for whatever reason, just resonate with me. So of course that would carry over into the types of toys I collect.

So I unpacked Mr. Punter J. Esquire and immediately attempted to load him up with his bot killing rifle. I was hoping I could kit him out with it in some sort of standing/firing pose like one might when hunting fowl.

Wrong. The dang thing is far to big, heavy and awkward for our proud sniper to hold like that. Were the wrist joints, and all associated joints which run up the length of his arm to his shoulder water tight, you might be able to manage it. As is, this gun was meant for prone shooting or at the very least, propped on the bits and pieces of fallen bots.

I know, I know.. it’s a giant bot stopping sniper rifle meant for static, one shot kills, not a run and gun M16. Still, I can’t help but  wanting the option.

So other than lugging an unwieldy bot killer, what makes Punter so different from the other Grunts? Well sir, not a lot. I’d have loved it if 3A had taken the initiative (and the extra time/expense) of sculpting an all new head for Punter. Giving him a grizzled beard those spec. ops guys always sport or something. But no, Punter has the same odd Charlie Brown-ish one eyed squinting mug as all the others.

It’s not the end of the world, he’s got camo painted on and the boonie hat adds some character to him. Wood said he was intentionally designed to be somewhat generic. “Meat for the Machines” and all that. So it’s a fairly neutral sculpt that you could do quite a bit with if so inclined.

Anyway, if he’s doing his sniping job right, you’ll never have the chance to see his face anyway.

Since I’ve had him, I’ve kept his boonie hat on. Like the 3AA baseball cap, it’s a little small for his noggin. It’s as if 3A thinks hats are meant to be worn “floating” on your scalp, with a gust of wind becoming your greatest concern. With some effort you can squeeze it down on his head to where it doesn’t look so ill-fitted. I think it’s rather dashing. All he needs is some cigarettes or a toothpick.

While Punter didn’t come with a coat or backpack, among other things, he does have an extra vest over the standard issue Grunt vest. I can’t tell if it’s meant to serve any other official purpose but aesthetic, but it adds some nice depth to his gear and looks good. Plus I found another use for it I’ll go over later.

The ghillie suit is a little confusing at first. When laid out it looks a little like an ugly bear skin rug with pieces that extend further than the rest but none that are really even. I’m still not 100% confident I’m using it right myself. There are little ties inside that you can use to secure it to Punter in various spots, though I’ve found simply draping it on him seemed to work just fine for me. I don’t know how accurate it is to real life ghillie suits, having never had one myself. It reminds me a little of a tangled lions mane as though he was about to put on a home-made production of the Wizard of OZ. I like lions, so it’s cool.

Setting Punter up in some appropriately textured shrubbery, suit on and high powered rifle at the ready, he really does almost vanish from sight. The tip of his gun extends beyond the camouflage wrap, sure to give off his position to the most keen eyed of targets but in most cases I’d say the camo is effective.

I have to say, the sniper rifle is a bit of a hassle to deal with. It’s long and bulky. The gun grip is big and just fits in Punters right hand. There’s no place for him to grip the gun naturally with his left hand for added support. The extending legs are a really cool touch, but basically, if you want your sniper to look like he’s sniping you have to wrestle him down into a prone sniping position. There’s no short cuts. Once he’s set up like that, barring available shelf space, you’ll probably leave him that way.

I like to move my figures around from time to time. Sometimes this just means simple adjustments that take a few seconds to pull off, sometimes it incorporates other characters and a half hour. I like the flexibility. Because of that, I’ll probably pose Punter in such a way that doesn’t require him to hold his gun. That in itself has it’s own challenge as there is no built in and defined ways for him to actually carry it. No strap, top handle, nothing. You have to get a little creative.

Having Punter hold it under arm like a briefcase only worked temporarily, eventually the wieght of the weapon and the relative looseness of his wrists caused him to drop it. Checking out his back pouches for some sort of loop or strap that I could somehow fasten it to, I realized that the extra “over-vest” was sitting pretty loose on him.

Bingo.

If the over-vest is loose enough, you can feed the barrel of the gun through the shoulder loops on his back. To me it looks pretty official, like it was meant to be carried that way. Near nested tree’s be damned.

I’m not saying it’s the best solution or that it’d be practical in real world circumstances, but for now it works as decent hands free option.

What it really comes down to is that I wish 3A had made the gun so that it breaks down in some way; becomes more portable. Punter himself is essentially a stream lined Grunt. Lean and mean. He should be able to get in and get out of a situation. A sniper needs to be able to move with his gear though. As is, Punter would have to ditch the canon if discovered and run off with his bare essentials.

That being said, I sort of like the bare essentials.

Punter comes with a the same trusty side arm his cousins did. I’m not complaining, I like the gun and the fact that it actually fits properly in his hand. The new hip holster it fits in is a pretty nice touch as well.

THE FINAL WORD

I realize I didn’t have a whole lot to say about Punter. For this particular review, I tried to let the pictures do the majority of the talking. The reason is, he’s a Grunt. If you have one, I’ve covered the differences and you know what else to expect out of him. If you don’t have one well, you should remedy that. They’re great figures! Tons of gear, a good deal of configuration options. All and all, a good time and worth the price of admission.

Overall, I’m a little conflicted. Honestly, I wasn’t completely blown away (pun) by Punter (double pun? Does that negate the first?). He’s a Grunt so he’s definitely cool by association. I like his hat, snug as it is. The ghillie suit is a really nice accessory that gives him a unique look thats fun to play with and display. But the main call sign of this particular figure is overshadowed by it’s ridiculous size. In a sense, Punter’s rifle reminds me of the rocket bullet that came with the TK Heavies. It looked cool and at first, I did all I could to pose him with it. After awhile I just got annoyed with the fact it had no real natural place on the TK and it went back in the box. Despite being a good deal more useful than the Heavy’s bullet, I could totally see myself doing that with Punter’s canon just to get it out of the way. Of coures, without the sniper rifle, what kind of sniper would he be? He’s back to being just a Grunt.

The good news is that Punter is still available at several online retailers and sitting at his original MSP. Even on “the bay” you can pick off a few decent prices. If I didn’t already have so many Grunts in my collection, I’d be thrilled with this guy.

As it stands, he’s a solid addition to my army but not one I’m sure was absolutely necessary.

 

PROS:

  • A different “type” of Grunt for your army
  • Ghillie suit makes the character. Very fun to mess around with
  • Boonie hat looks great on him
  • Gun is an impressive piece of hardware and looks awesome when set up right
  • Nice box art

CONS:

  • His rifle is so huge and unwieldy that it severely limits what you can do with it
  • Same Charlie Brown head sculpt as all the other meat for the machines
  • Take away his rifle and ghillie suit and he’s basically a stripped down version of the Grunt you already have.

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*Review* 3A WWR EMGY Caesar

This review was suppose to go up right before Comic Con. Unfortunately I ran into a few snags when attempting to use my iPad to post it on the way to San Diego. Apologies!

– Knives

INTRO

Fact: 3A’s release of the WWR Caesars was one of the/my most anticipated toy releases of the year. I wasted no time grabbing an EMGY when he dropped on Bambaland. I’d would have liked to snagged another color-way as well but what my parents told me when I was a child unfortunately still holds true. “Money does not grow on trees.”

Fact: A few months later, I purchased the awesome looking 003 which came as part of the Father and Son two pack. I was stoked.

Fact: I received my Father and Son two pack in the mail and was absolutely over the moon with excitement to get home and open up the massive box. I smiled at the thought of basking in what was sure to be some bright red form of toy geek nirvana.

Fact: Watching the clock at work because you can’t wait for 5pm to roll around only makes time move slower. Avoid clocks when anxious.

Fact: I finally opened the two pack and was incredibly underwhelmed, let down and saddened when I did. (review here) Good feeling gone. Hope for mankind lost.

Fact: I put off opening my EMGY for over 3 days as the weight of disappointment that close together would surely cause me to burn my collection and by proxy, my house, to the ground.

Fact: The wife would not be pleased by this. I advise to avoid fire under distress.

Fact: I finally opened my EMGY Caesar.

Fact: I smiled.. more than once.

Fact: I’m writing this review at 7:00am in the morning at the top quarter portion of a six hour flight, in a crowded cabin and next to a screaming baby.

PACKAGING

A color coded slip cover is the first thing you’ll see when opening up your Caesar. For EMGY, you get some stark yellow design elements and a dash of logos to balance things out.

Slips are nice, but a little boring. Underneath it, we get to the good stuff. A printed image of a super cool Ashley Wood painting. The painting itself features the dome topped Gravedigger. It’d been cool if Ash did a unique piece for each color-way, but being as there were close to 50 different ones (ed note: exaggeration) I can’t fault them for simplifying it.

WHAT’S INCLUDED

Obviously, you get a giant yellow (EMGY) bot, along with his huge rifle, side arm and knife. You also get a little catalog of the ghosts of 3A past, aka toys you can’t get anymore less you brave the treacherous after market sea. You also get a pretty awesome WWR comic as part of the deal.

The comic is pretty short, and save for a few select panels and some really nice paintings on the last few pages.. it’s relatively light on exciting content. But it tells a little WWR story which has an actual beginning, middle and end (take that Popbot!). WWR is something many like myself have been asking for more of since Ashley put out the World War Robot collection several years back, and just like so much of what the man does, the result has me clamoring for more.

THE BREAKDOWN

This is a first for Rad Toy Review. I’m basically reviewing the same exact toy as I did a few weeks back with the 003 from the Father and Son two pack. There are some immediate, obvious contrasts of course, one is red, the other yellow, but at their core, they’re the same thing.

So what’s a fellah to do? How do I write a new perspective to something I JUST wrote? Well, as it happens, the clothes do indeed make the man. On some accounts, the machine.
Emgy might as well be an entirely all new toy as the differences between the two, if only aesthetic, feel truly immense.

Let’s being shall we? I went with the EMGY color-way not out of any particular love for yellow, but because I’m fortunate to have both an EMGY Grunt and EMGY Dropcloth. The three should look smashing together on display. (hint: they do)

The WWR Caesars are all part of 3A’s LUX line. This is intended to mean that, for a price, we get a higher quality, more refined and all around better collectible. My vocal reaction to the claim upon first unleashing 003 to the world was this giant, disappointed “meh”. EMGY on the other hand, holy crab cakes! Look at this sexy beast!

3A did some really good things with the paint job on this big fellah. The layers of weathering we’ve come to expect from them is all here with streaks and smears, sponged dirt and splatters. Take a closer look and you’ll see some of the stuff that calls back to the 3A of yesteryear.

We have silver metal popping out from underneath his yellow coat, edges worn by harsh conditions and the elements. There’s small flecks of red here and there, subtly offsetting the dominate dirty yellow. I haven’t seen toy “metal” look this metal in a long, long time! Say what you will about the design, Caesar is painted up very,very nice.

Big guns. That’s been sort of a theme of late with the big bots I’ve reviewed. Zaku had an absolutely massive beast of a gun and while not quite as huge, Caesar’s isn’t too shabby either. EMGY C is one of the select Caesars to get the newly designed smart rifle. Other’s came packed with the same rifle that previously came with WWR Armstrong’s.

How well designed this new smart rifle is, like so much else in life, is completely objective and probably up to your personal tastes. I think it’s pretty great. It’s heavy, hard edges and bulky barrel look tough. The removable clip, scope and color coordinated bits add some interest. It’s an all new look for WWR and projects as though it’d pack a heavy punch. Something which seems well suited for a Caesar.

Standard issue with all stripes of Caesar is their harmonic knife and trusty side arm. I loved on the knife a bit in my 003 review and I stand by said loving here. The knife is a sick piece of kit. Of course EMGY’s has yellow accents to ensure no one picks it up by mistake and runs off with it.

The side arm looks great as well. Color coordinated and with a trigger guard that actually fits Big C’s fingers. Something that shouldn’t even be review worthy, but as 3A can be pretty dyslexic about whether or not the weapons they give their characters actually fit or not, it seems worth mentioning. It also helps when posing him Solid Snake style with blade and pistol at the ready.

Shields. The EGMY crew has an abundance of them and they are in many ways, synonymous with the color-way. While all the Caesars sport a shoulder shield of some kind, I thought it was fitting they gave EMGY two.

This is where I must address what is basically my only real complaint about Caesar.. EMGY Caesar that is. The weight of the shields on his arms are too much for the balljoints at his shoulders. This could be an isolated thing and I just lucked out with one of whom’s BOTH arms flop around needlessly at his sides. I say that, because I don’t recall having the issue with 003. Maybe he warped some in the heat during shipment or maybe he slipped past 3A’s QC. Whatever the case may be, it sucks to get a new toy and immediately have an issue on your hands. I’ll say this here, 3A’s Customer Service is some of the best out there. They’ve helped me out countless times in the past with all sorts of little issues ranging from scuffed paint to broken weapons. Even replaced things I broke myself! But to fix this, I’d have to ship Big C back to them. That’s not cheap nor is it something I want to deal with.

Instead, I went for a bottle of super glue and slowly built up a fine layer around the joint until I got it tight enough to hold the poses I needed him to.

Speaking of pose. You can get quite a bit out of the big guy. He’s the most articulated bot out right now from 3A. His size does inhibit how spryly you’ll be able to move him around, but with some patience and little work you can squeeze a ton out of him.

The skirt draped around EMGY will be familiar to anyone who’s owned a dropcloth. All the pros and cons of the waist high moo moo are included as well. The biggest negative being the bags, sheath and holster are all held on by little cloth tabs tucked into it’s waist band. More likely than not, the second you take your Caesar out of his package a few of them will already be untucked and the bags will be hanging loosely. I miss the good ol’ days when bags had loops on the back and a belt strung through them to keep them solidly in place.
I’ve been dealing with this small annoyance since day one of collecting 3A. I’ve learned to accept it, but it still irks me the slightest bit. A little tip: If you pull your straps through and get enough slack you can simply tie them together for sound keeping.

FINAL WORD

Night and day. Red and yellow. That’s how different the 003 and EMGY Caesars are. 003 was a mountain of plastic disappointment, looking cheaper than it should have and frankly, dull. My EMGY Caesar however, is the bee’s knees. The killer paint app, the double shields, the tough flat head, the newly designed smart rifle, a harmonic knife and the ample articulation make for a really fun and impressive bot.

I want to pose this guy.. move his arms around into exciting poses with that awesome canon/rifle/broomstick. Get him sneaking up behind a grunt with blade drawn for the kill. Lots of cool, exciting and fun ideas pop up just looking at this guy sitting here.

There in lies the rub. I know I’ll probably never bother.
Once he’s set up on my shelf, he’ll most likely stay exactly however he sits from now until I absolutely HAVE to move him. The fun of grabbing a toy to mess around with during a moment of downtime isn’t really an option. He’s just too big and cumbersome to easily toss around. A crowded shelf of carefully placed toys doesn’t help.

It shouldn’t matter to me. I’m technically a grown up.

EMGY Caesar is awesome. Figures like this are why I collect 3A. Loose shoulder joints aside, I’m completely satisfied with how they produced this guy. I guess what I’m starting to see with my own collection is that I just don’t NEED any more big bots. They become permanent fixtures and eat up a ton of space.

So even though I have this new toy that I want to kiss and hug and call George, it’s probably the last 1/6 scale giant robot that I’ll be adding to my collection.

Of course giant robots are what got me into 3A in the first place.

Giant robots are cool.

Like really, REALLY cool…

Sigh… I have no will power.

 

 

PROS:

  • Fantastic attention to detail from paint/weathering to articulation and accessories
  • All new bits and pieces head to toe
  • Epic big bot with great articulation. High kicks galore!
  • Huge shields, huge gun, huge bot = huge awesome
  • EMGY looks baller when paired up with his crew

CONS:

  • Shields are heavy and may cause issues when posing the arms
  • 3A still uses little tucked straps which fail to keep bags/sheaths/holsters tight and where they’re supposed to be. The 14th century called and wants their buckle-less straps back!

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*review* 3A WWRp JEA Heavy Bramble

INTRO

It’s not often that I’m able to point my finger at previous review we’ve posted and say that the one you’re currently reading (enthralled with?) will be essentially a retread of the former.  Yes, it’s 3A WWRp JEA time again. The on-going saga of collecting the JEA colorway at 1/12th scale continues with the just released, retail WWRp JEA Heavy Bramble.

You might detect a few notes here from my previous review of the WWRp JEA MK3 Bertie. Many of the same things I admired and critiqued on that bot are essentially the same sort registered here. If you’ve yet to read it, I suggest you give it a gander after you’ve consumed this tasty meal. If you’ve had it before, then perhaps you’d enjoy a quick revisit.

So while there may be a few woodsy.. perhaps smokey hints that leap off the back of the palette a few moments after you’ve finished a sip. Fear not, there are differences below…

or perhaps just a few finer details.

PACKAGING

Ah yes. It’s good to see the likes of AW paints once again being the focus of a 3A toy’s boxart. WWRp Heavy Bramble features an image of the Bramble Gravedigger, I assume a few moments pre-rocket release, the icons/graphics are minimal, the painting prominent. Definitely worthy of shelf display.

On the back we get a nice quick background story about the Mk3 Bramble. While we’ve seen slivers of story here and there on various 3A packs, this is the first time I’ve seen one that features a bots proposed “specs”. Size, weight, height, it’s all here. It’s pretty cool in a geeky (aka, me) kind of way.

WHAT’S INCLUDED

Your Heavy Bramble will come packed tidy with 4 bags and a massive rocket launcher of sorts known as the Aunty Jack 4 Way RPD.  I think of it as 3A’s BFG.

THE BREAKDOWN

It’d be really super crazy easy for me to go down the path of drawing comparisons between little WWRp Heavy Bramble and big WWR Heavy Bramble. I could fill this page with how amazingly close to the two are in terms of paint, weathering, articulation, presence… etc.  On and on I could go until you’ve found yourself reading an exhaustive comparison of each bot’s pinky surface texture. I firmly believe that nobody wants that.

So I’m going to try not to do that gentle reader, because you deserve more. I’ll sum it up real quick and say that yes, indeed 1/6 and 1/12 HBs are practically identical twins, albeit with one wot’s been shrunken by some sort of wonderous toy shrink ray. The bags might be a shade or three lighter on the WWRp version. but beyond that… twinsies!

Instead, I’d like to focus on the WWRp Heavy Bramble and how he relates and compares to the other bots in the WWRp world.  The JEA colorway and otherwise.

Out of the box and at first rub, Mr. HB looks really good. The familiar greens, tans and icons that any JEA fan would appreciate are all here. I’m still amazed at how much detail 3A can squeeze onto their smaller figures. Especially when it’s based off a larger version and manages to remains faithful to it down to the tiny drips of “oil” running off an exhaust. I’m almost convinced that they reverse engineer everything. Simply design a robot for the small scale only to release the giant version first with the sole goal of really impressing us all later. Flecs of rust, soot and oil remind you that you’re looking at a machine.. a machine that’s been places and seen some things.

I love Heavy B’s proportions. The original bramble is one of my favorite toys out of 3A with it’s barrel chest (literally.. a barrel)and has always in my mind been the “muscle” of the squad. The HB takes that idea and runs with it. Just look at those gorilla arms. He makes poor Mk2 look absolutely anorexic by comparison. If I had one complaint with the design it’d be the extended exposed wrist joint. It functions as a tremendous boon when holding the launcher, but aesthetically it does look a little out of place.

Articulation on a Heavy Bramble is essentially the same as it was on the standard MK2 Bramble. The larger shoulders/arms do seem to have a slightly more limited allotment for shoulder movement, but I doubt it’s anything you’d notice or mind if you’re already a fan of the MK2. Other than that the head turns, waist twists, knees bend and fingers open/close. If you were able to get there with the Mk2, you shouldn’t have any issue doing so with the MK3 as well.

Of note is that all the joints (fingers included) on my Heavy Bramble were perfect. Not too tight, not too loose. Each had just the right amount of resistence so I can twist and turn him into whatever pose allowed and he’ll stay put. The fingers don’t flop around like loose erector set pieces, the arms or legs don’t feel as though they may snap in twain while bending them. It could be complete blind luck mine turned out this well, but I’ll take it. However, if by chance there’s a setting on the dremel tool or whatever piece of machinery 3A uses to engineer toy joints.. I’d like to whole heatedly request that they WRITE IT DOWN!

The addition of  MK3’s thicker arms makes a lot of sense given the size of the RPD he’s equipped with.

It’s huge. Massive even. End to end, almost twice the size of HB himself. I love the design of it with it’s flaps and scope. It’s a bit limiting how Heavy B can hold the launcher. Apparently Rothchild only designed these guys as rightys. The scope is stuck firm and fast on the weapon’s left side, meaning HB has to hold it with his right hand if he wants to hit his target. It’d been cool if the scope snapped on and off so you could move things around a bit more freely, but regardless the HB + launcher is an impressive and imposing sight.

Complaint time.

The side bags are just as annoying as they’ve ever been. I’m probably alone but I’m just not a fan. I’ve always liked the idea of bots sporting bags and you may think they’re the best thing since sliced bread. Just don’t be surprised to find that once again they fly off at the smallest bump as though possessed by a silent robot sack focused banshee. At this point in the evolution of robots/warfare and the men, women and children who play with them, there HAS to be a better way to adhere these things to robots.  Bring back the bertie belts! Those did the job with grande gusto! I know, I know.. adding belts at this juncture when the original 2 year old design didn’t have them would be some kind of toy design heresy. But I’d happily forgive that by chalking it up as an “upgrade”.

Also, the bag straps are all over the place. Untidy to say the least. That is all.

Throwing HB up with the rest of the JEA crew looks great. The cohesive colors and icons speckled throughout the gang looks really nice together. Heavy fits right in while not getting lost in the sea of greens. It could be that massive launcher he’s holding allowing him to stand out, but I’ll let him take the credit

HB’s design elements seem to borrow the most from the MK2 JEA Bramble and the JEA Large Martin. The general overall color scheme is basically swiped from MK2 while many of the updated icons are taken from LM. It’s a good blend I think to tie the squad in a bit more. Thankfully the tones are just right and not like the out of place (though individually cool) blue dominate JEA Armstrong. If having your bots match is important to you, the JEA Heavy Bramble shouldn’t dissapoint ya.

So other than the bags, a criticism arguably based off preference than on true unbiased observation, what other problems/errors/missteps/unforutnates did I find with Mr JEA HB? Well I’ll tell you.

I found two.

As a long time 3A collector my fondest memories go back to some if their earliest bots. These of course are the MK2 Brambles and the MK2 Berties. Not only were they brand new, never before seen highly articulated robots sporting awesome firepower and an intriguing background story, they were painted and detailed with such astonishing care and finesse. The first Bertie I held in my hands was Dirty Deeds. An all black bot with a few simple white icons on him. deceptively uncomplicated. But when you really looked at him the various layers of paint and weathering begin to pop out. As the different shades of bronze and silver rust along with the careful placement of painted wear and tear reveal themselves, you begin to realize that there’s nothing simple about this all black bot at all. In fact, it’s a masterpiece.

Perhaps that’s comparing apples to oranges. A bit too abstract. I’ll go another route. The obvious one. Bramble to Bramble. While they look great together, putting them side by side will no doubt show you very clearly why your brand new MK3 Heavy Bramble is and will always be inferior to your old, dusty, out of date MK2 Bramble. Big arms be damned.

Just look at the scratches of silver metal peaking through on the various ridges and edges on the MK2. Places where the Bramble had obviously scratched itself against something heavy, which took paint as it’s prize. It catches the light and breaks up the muck of oil and drab. To me it’s the one last crucial piece of the puzzle that sells the idea that this is a “metal” robot I’m looking at. The Heavy Bramble doesn’t have that. Without that small touch, the little breaks to his specular profile, he’s plastic.  Really cool looking plastic, but plastic all the same.

I’ve noticed this on the last several 3A bots I’ve collected and I can’t understand why they felt it no longer necessary to apply that level of detail to their new bots.  It’s as though 3A ran out of silver paint.

I understand they’re getting bigger as a company and the demand for 3A toys is unfathomably greater than it was when the MK2 was released, but hire another detail guy (gal) or two and please bring it back 3A!

My only other quibble with this miniaturized robotic giant isn’t a fault of him being WWRp, but fault of the original’s execution which this scale happens to mirror.

Those blasted launcher flaps.

If by some miracle 3A could have found it in their collective hearts to update the launcher to include HINGED launcher flaps, singing birds would have herald their greatness to the heavens, the sky would have turned a pure Bob Ross blue and Apollo would have lifted his skirt.

I might have even cried giant man tears of joy.

But alas, they did not so I did not. None of that stuff happened because they decided to leave them sticking out, thin and gorilla glued. Once more you will have to worry about how you lay the launcher down, placing it hanging over a ledge or if you fancy yourself a brave sou,l standing up right and balanced on end. You must examine daily the very grip of your Heavy Bramble to ensure that it be firm and true so the launcher does not fall foul from it’s fickle grasp.

Because if it DOES, you will without the slightest hint of question have a broken, busted, shattered launcher on your hands. You might as well buy a small tube of super glue the next time your at Walgreens just in case.

Oh, and keep it close.

FINAL SUMMARY

The MK3 WWRp Heavy Bramble is another fine addition to my JEA Squad. I was actually a bit more excited about getting him than I was my MK3 Bertie a few months ago. I just love that classic ol’ Bramble design. If you collect JEA or one of the other WWRp colorways offered by this retail run, I’d recommend scooping up one or two. Even if you don’t, their a steal right now and some great designs to choose from. There’s even some region specific variants for UK, USA and Asia that are only available if you live in the respective area.. or have that thing called internet and can type the word “ebay”. They’re available now at just about all the sexy cool online toy stores. Grab them while you can!

A few 3A purist may discount my claim that the paint on the HB lacks the refinement of the original MK2’s and assume that I’m simply trying to find something to complain about or critique. On the other hand, those who gather speed off 3A’s missteps will probably applaud and take my comments about the paint app to mean the Heavy MK3 “sucks”. Neither are true. Despite my lust for a return of 3A perfection and the few wanted improvements I’ve noted, these guys are really great toys.

I firmly believe that 3A is still delivering above and beyond 99% of anything else out there.. I’d just like to see them nudged back to 100%.

Pros:

  • Another great addition to the JEA squad or the WWRp collector’s shelf in general
  • Great articulation and perfect (at least on mine) joints.
  • Very nice paint that practically mirrors his big brother
  • Colors match the JEA squad flawlessly
  • Huge launcher is BA

Cons:

  • When side by side with MK2 Bramble, the lack of some of the finer attention to details in the paint application on the Heavy are really noticeable
  • Flaps on the launcher are still glued on and fragile.

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