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TF-Parallax City Commander

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"The following is a guest review.  The review and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the guest author."

Jin Saotome checks in tonight with a look at a great Transformer - take it away, Jin!

Prepare for a new adventure across the vast, countless universes, to battle an elusive enemy with unbelievable allies. Are you ready to befriend familiar looking foes? Will you confront friends who are now farfetched in their nature… Welcome to: TF PARALLAX

Today’s review is going to be a little odd. Not because it has to do with Transformers, a toy line that really isn’t covered in Mike’s reviews, but because the City Commander ‘figure’ is made up for two different parts. In order to make the figure you will need part A: A Transformers Ultra Magnus Classics figure by Hasbro and part B: The City Commander armor set by an independent company known as FansProject Ltd. Ultra Magnus came in a Target exclusive 2-pack with Thundercracker last year. However he was simply a white and lighter blue repaint of the Classics Optimus Prime (which can also fit inside the armor, same as the SDCC Universe Nemesis Prime) and fans clamored for a true ‘Generation 1’ Ultra Magnus which featured armor and a trailer.

Enter Fansproject.com. They designed and released the City Commander armor under the TF-Parallax line that would combine with your classics Ultra Magnus to form a complete figure with full range of motion, weapons, and still transformed into a semi with trailer. With massive fan support the armor was released. So what was the end result? Well read on and we’ll find out. Keep in mind that the armor is completely separate from the Hasbro produced figure and both are needed to complete City Commander.
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Hot Toys Dark Knight Batman action figure
Hot Toys Dark Knight Batman action figure
Hot Toys Dark Knight Batman action figure
Hot Toys Dark Knight Batman action figure
Hot Toys Dark Knight Batman action figure

Packaging - ***1/2
It’s a medium-sized white box with some lettering on it, hmmm. There are no pictures of the product inside but the design looks nice enough with the basic company website info, some warnings on the bottom, and the name of the item inside. On the back is the cryptic sounding message you read at the beginning of this review. Oooh, mysterious! Pop open the flap and out comes a 100% user friendly plastic tray in a cardboard insert showing off a rather blue trailer. Though I wish the box had some art of the figure it was still done very nicely and quite sturdy for collectors wanting to keep it on the shelf. No twisties either!

Sculpting - ****
The trailer itself is sharp looking, no soft sculpts here. The fact it’s made of all hard ABS plastic helps this and there’s no flaws at all for being a kit in nature. While the trailer is complete you’ll still have to take it apart to form City Commander and combine it with your Ultra Magnus. Here’s where the sculpt really shines. The head, shoulders, chest, waist, arms, and legs all come together beautifully. They attach right on to Magnus and you can’t really tell he’s wearing armor, it’s that well designed. This alone blew me away because the trailer armor wasn’t made by Hasbro, yet fits on the figure perfectly as if the same designers had worked on it.

The new head and face of City Commander is beautiful, fitting in with the TF Classics theme of ‘upgraded G1’ sculpts. He’s big and blocky just like Ultra Magnus was in the cartoons and comics. Everything about him screams Transformers and looks the part so much I honestly can’t tell it was designed by another company. Something else neat about the figure is that the license plate on the left toe can be flipped similar to James Bond’s car, to display two different plates. It’s the only action feature so I decided to include it with the sculpt, since it affects how the figure looks.

Paint - ***1/2
The trailer/armor is molded primarily in base plastic colors but what paint is there is flawless with crisp colors, sharp edges, and absolutely no slop. Since this is a specialty figure I would expect no less than perfect paint apps, however you only get solid colors here with no kind of shading or highlights like with other lines of action figures. That’s not a big deal here because the Hasbro Transformers figures are the same way and they needed to make sure the trailer matched the Ultra Magnus figure perfectly. When matched up against the colors of the base figure you can’t tell the difference and that’s pretty amazing!

Articulation - ****

Often when you get removable armor for a figure it limits the articulation because of it’s bulk and weight. But here the armor actually adds articulation! You start out with the base movement of your Ultra Magnus figure but the City Commander armor adds cut wrists, a ball-jointed neck, and tilt-ankles! Each hinge or flap of the armor that is movable for the transformation from trailer to armor has a metal pin and feels quite durable. The armor doesn’t hinder the base figure’s articulation at all which was pretty extensive to begin with. I was really impressed with all the moving panels and the ability to give him tilt ankles for a sturdy stance on my shelf.

Accessories - ****
Technically the armor is the accessory, but still has one for the figure, the BFG. (big freaking gun) This large weapon has two modes, a shoulder missile launcher and the BFG mode. The weapon fits great in either hand and you don’t need to remove it to transform modes, just fold it down. It’s rather heavy in BFG mode and depending on how tight your joints on the base Ultra Magnus figure are, you might end up propping the gun up on his knee. But man, it sure does look deadly! Speaking of accessories, the base figure’s original accessories can be stored on the back of the shoulder columns when he’s holding the BFG. That’s some smart designing there. You also get an assortment of license plate stickers for the revolving plate

Now for the really cool part… the instruction booklet. While a figure’s instructions are almost never mentioned in reviews I feel it’s a huge part of the figure just as the comic book was with the old Toybiz Marvel Legends figures. Why? Because the instructions are actually a comic! This was an ingenious idea because as you’re reading how Prime is doing battle with some Egyptian-looking baddie it swaps into a detailed view of how to take the trailer apart and assemble it into City Commander... right in the middle of the action using the same art style! The art for the comic/instruction is top notch too, though it doesn’t say who the artist is in the booklet.

Transformation - ****
Looking at the trailer you don’t really see the complexity and multiple parts right away until you start taking it apart. Transforming to the armor and attaching it to your base Ultra Magnus figure is a snap, each part folding and fitting exactly how it should, and tightly. There’s no loose armor pieces here and you won’t need to force anything. The chestplate has springs that lock it firmly in place which was pretty neat and the arms/shoulders/waist/legs lock on firmly. Transforming back into a trailer is easy too, just reverse the directions. Both modes feel quite sturdy as well.

Fun factor- ****
Wow….. I can’t remember when I had this much fun actually playing with a figure. If you remember the old G1 Ultra Magnus back from your childhood toybox then you are going to have a blast with this one! Your kids too, though it’s not really intended for children under 15 as it states on the box. But the armor and paint is just as durable as the Transformers figure underneath so I wouldn’t worry about your child rolling it around on the carpet and transforming it with supervision.

Value - ***
At first glance $76.00 is a lot to pay for an accessory, or so you would think. But this armor wasn’t mass produced for retail shelves. It was designed by fans that started their own company and used durable materials topping it off with a great paint job. We’re not talking about a specialty company like NECA or Mezco, we’re talking about you and your friends making something from the ground up and getting it into production with no flaws whatsoever. That is truly impressive and combined with the design, application, and durability, makes this City Commander armor well worth the price tag.

Things to Watch Out For -
Zip. There are no quality control issues; the armor is sturdy once attached. I didn’t feel as if anything would break when transforming the trailer to armor and the paint was perfect. I guess one could break the neck on City Commander if they tried to bend his head too far back but that would still take some effort.

Overall - ****
I am stunned. Here you have a small company that put out a truly amazing product for a license they don’t even own. This gives me high, HIGH hopes for other small companies who are making their own figures/toys and if FansProject Ltd. could do it, great things are in store for the future. I don’t think I can say anything else about the figure other than if you’re a fan of the Ultra Magnus character as he appears in the original Cartoon/comic then you’re going to want to go to the ends of the earth for this figure. Remember that it’s just the armor though and you’ll need some version of Classics Prime to complete it. 

This is Jin Saotome saying thanks for checking out the review and look forward to more!

Scoring Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpting - ****
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - ***3/4
Accessories - ***4/5
Transformation - ****
Fun Factor - ****
Value - ***
Overall - ****

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Figure from the collection of Jin Saotome.

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