Inflatable Dalek's Review: Robot Basil z and Robot Manuel X [Auto Assembly Mech Ideas Jumpstarters]
Robot Basil Z.
Don’t be alarmed, it’s only my wife laughing.
Robot Manuel X.
He doesn’t have one.
When do I get to see the sailboat?
Note: Both these convention exclusive toys have very extensive bios that are written, as the names suggest, as a spoof of Fawlty Towers
. However, let’s face it, they’re to all intents and purposes unofficial versions of Twin Twist (Basil, the black one) and Topspin (Manuel, the yellow one), in particular their look in IDW’s Last Stand of the Wreckers
comic. So their personalities basically boil down to “Mentally joined twins who died horribly”. For the rest of this review I’ll be referring to them by their “Proper” Transformers
names as that’s who I think of them as and I laugh in the face of copyright.
2013 was a big year for the British Auto Assembly
convention as it saw the event have its first even exclusive toys in the shape of repaints of Mech Ideas third party Jumpstarters. Topspin was available to order before the convention, and fiendishly Twin Twist was unveiled on the day (based on the original email announcing Topspin the idea had been to have each of them available at different conventions; i.e. you’d have to go to both to get the pair. As they were both in Auto Assembly
branded packaging this presumably isn’t happening now).
This prompted everyone who’d brought the former to get the later as no sane person wants just the one Jumpstarter. The colour schemes are apparently based on some version released on a far flung foreign land like Brazil, or Wales. But thanks to the power of imagination I like to tie into the Wreckers
comic by thinking Topspin is glowing yellow because he’s just been plugged into the Aequitas chamber and the energy is flowing through him, whilst Twin Twist has turned black because he’s just been horribly killed in the Spark Extinction Chamber.
For those not at the convention, or without the power of imagination, these toys are available in the more traditional Jumpstarter colours as well. Based on pictures they seem to have more paint apps but are perhaps undone by the original toys having slightly dull schemes.
[EDIT: But now, you can choose for yourself as this review includes pictures of the regular colour scheme that have been donated by the poster Denyer]
It’s also worth noting that, bar the colours and bits of kibble, these are identical toys. Hence the joint review.
The two Jumpstarters must have presented a bit of a headache for Mech Ideas. For all their unofficial status and invented back-story these are aimed squarely at the mad Transformers
fan. No, even worse than that, the mad Jumpstarters fan who is prepared to spend forty odd pounds on new versions of the characters. Obviously the target demographic is going to want as faithful a reproduction of the two boys’ original looks as possible, just updated with modern manufacturing techniques.
The problem is of course, that the original Jumpstarters have terrible, terrible alt modes. The sort the first wave Pretenders point and laugh at. So poorly designed that when Bob Budiansky needed an Autobot who turned into a drilling machine for The Bridge to Nowhere
story he made one up rather than sully his hands with Twin Twist.
It must be utterly soul destroying to be a competent toy designer trying to recreate that look on purpose. The poor sap didn’t even have the advantage of people coming up with Third Party Predacons and Stunticons as there’s at least the option there of coming up with alternate modes that are more faithful to the real life cars and animals they’re based whilst still keeping the feel of the original character designs. But when it comes to a Cybertronian hover craft things Topspin is the one and only in the whole world, there is nowhere else to look for inspiration for him.
Still, if you like Jumpstarters that much, these boys do the job. Of the two I prefer Topspin, the more vibrant yellow and red make for a more exciting toy and the flat pancake design is more convincing as a flyer than a drill, especially as Twin Twist has rather dinky little drill heads.
The main differences between the two toys, other than the swapping of the drills (which can spin) for air intake valves (which also spin, if that’s your bag) is that Twin Twist has (non-moving, more on that in a second) caterpillar tracks on his underside whilst Topspin has a rather cute pair of wings and a couple of stickers to represent a cockpit.
Whilst the alt modes themselves are a little underwhelming, the fully loaded accessories do somewhat make up for it. The two guns (which, in a nice touch are different for each toy) can plug into the top, whilst the hammer can either disassemble and fit under the back of the toy as a sort of engine (though this leaves you with a piece that doesn’t seem to have anywhere to plug) or also be placed on the top. This presumably works as a sort of tank barrel. This means you can set the two toys up in at least three different variations and ensures you can create surprisingly diverse looks for them that helps hide the fact it is essentially the same toy.
One flaw though is that the design doesn’t have little wheels on the underside. This isn’t such a problem for Topspin as the ideal way of playing with a jet based Transformers is to wave him about in the air making “WOOOOOOOOOOOSH” noises. It does however hurt Twin Twist as all he can do is sit there, you can’t enact the traditional way of playing with a land based Transformer by running him backwards and forwards on the carpet making “GRRRR GRRRRR GRRRRRRR” noises.
Technically this is just a minor problem as this is firmly aimed at people who won’t be doing that sort of thing (and I only spent five minutes or so waving Topspin about), but it’s one that could have been so easily avoided it actually winds up quite annoying.
However, if you love Jumpstarters, both the vehicle modes are absolutely perfect.
One of the joys of faithfully updated Jumpstarters is the transformation is nice and straightforward, though not as basic as the originals (because the only way you could make it more basic would be to create Action Master versions) it still flows easily and is fairly intuitive. It’s only let down slightly by the tabs that need to be lifted to release the hands being a little stiff. Other than that though, it’s basically just a case of unfolding the legs and slipping the waist down under the chest. Even with my big fat sausage fingers I could manage it.
The resultant robot modes are where the two toys come into their own. Whilst they’re fairly straightforward they do perfectly capture how the two characters looked in Wreckers
. These are two chunky bruisers you can see handling the rough stuff whilst properly popular characters like Springer can save their energy for thinking up cool one-liners.
Whilst Twin Twist keeps the black and grey look, Topspin adds some light grey on the legs that help break up the almost G2ish bright colour scheme. Again, I prefer the brightness of the later, but Twin Twist does have a nice serious look that works for someone I like to think has just been horribly tortured to death. To further add to the dead ‘bot look he also comes with an alternate face that perfectly represents his torture at the hands of Stalker. However, I must admit I haven’t been brave enough to swap the faces as I was worried about breaking the head due to finding the default face too firmly held in place.
Both toys are extremely poseable and can crack all sorts of nice action poses. They can either hold the guns or they can be kept on their backs in the same place as vehicle mode. Both characters also come with a massive hammer, which seems completely random as neither has, to the best of my knowledge, ever been especially hammer-associated. Still, it looks pretty cool and it’s possible to balance it on their back between the two shoulder pieces. This means that, again, you can create two quite distinct looks for them.
Whatever weaknesses are present in the vehicle modes are more than compensated for by the fun of the robots, in terms of something to pose on the shelf with the other Wreckers they pretty much work perfectly.
Well thought out and manages to be simple whilst still having a couple of fun bits thrown in. Only let down by extreme stiffness in a couple of places.
Very much an “Adult Collectable”, whilst it’s not going to break into a million pieces in your hands all the joints can pop off fairly easily (though in the case of the head that’s needed to carry out the face swap) and I can’t see them standing up to the rigors of actual-child play. Still, if you want something your sprog can have fun with that’s unbreakable by human hands, that’s what the cheap as chips originals are for. If used as the intended display pieces you shouldn’t have any huge problems with these two.
The robot modes are great, the two colour schemes work well and there’s some nicely thought out accessories that help make the two otherwise 99% identical toys feel like individuals.
However, the rubbish alt modes do let them down. Though if you’re the mad Jumpstarter fan this is specifically aimed at you can comfortably round up the figure to a full 10 as a mildly crap not-really-anything alt mode is exactly what you want.
No problems here, every single pose you could possibly want Topspin and Twin Twist to do is more than achievable. Whether it’s a cool action stance or being propped up dead against a wall they’re more than capable of it.
Well, they were originally £45 each, which is pretty fair for a Third Party convention exclusive toy. How much they will cost in the future will really depend on how many of these things Mech Ideas and, their partner at Auto Assembly, Sensible Collectables has left over. The below score is based on it staying about the same, if you’re reading this in the future and they are now worth more than an in-box European Overlord do adjust accordingly.
[The price of the regular versions seems to be £60 for the pair at the time of writing]
Well, if you love Jumpstarters (there’s probably a drinking game if the number of times I’ve said “Jumpstarters”) these are the toys for you. Anyone else may well be put off by the alternate modes, but for this Wreckers fanboy the fun of the robot modes coupled with the pleasingly mental colour schemes more than makes up for that and has made them into a fun addition to my growing LSOTW
Now, someone hurry up with that Third Party Impactor. Or “Robot Sybil Y” as he’d no doubt be called.