Knightdramon's Review: MMC R11 Seraphicus Prominion and Power Cradle Set
: Seraphicus Prominon
: Moritorus Sovereign
Disclaimer---this is a figure that I have been waiting on for a long, long time. Initial renders of the core bot surfaced circa 2012, right around the time MMC's Hexatron [Sixshot] came out, and our bot here was also featured on the comic book that came with Hexatron. At the time it was advertised as a figure homaging the 13's Prima.
Roughly a year later, August 2013, CGI renders for the prototype of what we are holding today surfaced, showing the alternate mode and a trailer which expanded into an armoury. Said armoury held parts that combined with the core figure to an IDW Nova Prime homage. The CAD shots also featured a black Nemesis Prime version as well.
I was thrilled. I was ecstatic. Nova Prime is [in the IDW Universe] the first Prime to take the mantle after the 13 Primes left the planet. An initially benevolent leader, seeking to unify all the scattered tribes on Cybertron, advance science, and reach out to the stars to spread out enlightenment to the Universe.
Or so everybody thought, because Nova was actually a supremacist who sought to subjugate the Universe to his will. Nova has been a recurring villain in the IDW comics and he is one of the best designed of the Prime lineage in this writer's opinion. The initial Don Figueroa artwork meshed parts of Freedom Gundam and bits of Galaxy Force Prime, giving it an angelic white colour scheme, later on tainted and turned black and red.
This is all amazing but this project proved too challenging for MMC to tackle back in 2013. Subject to a lot of delays, re-engineering for various bits for their ambitious armour and eventual re-colouring and remoulding, Seraphicus Prominon was offered for pre-order in late 2015 and officially came out in February-April 2016, depending on where you ordered him from. The turnaround time [from 2013 or 2012, depending on which you hold as the origin of the figure] is among the longest, if not the longest, of a figure going from CAD to actual production.
MMC did miss out a good window for pretty much free product placement as Nova Prime did feature in a few sagas in the comic books during all the delay, and the figure came out -roughly- one and a half year after the last comic book that featured him [RID 34, October 2014].
Seraphicus Prominon was available for purchase in two "flavours"--the standalone core figure or in a combo of the core figure and the armour. In a somewhat disappointing affair, the combo is literally the core figure packaging with the additional trailer packaging; there is no collector's box combining the two. The standalone figure follows the standard MMC pricing---roughly 69 pounds/84 USD, while the combo adds on 100 pounds/140 or so USD.
Without any further ado, let's see what you get in this latest MMC release...
Seraphicus follows [or sets, if you will] the tradition of a truck with a trailer as the base mode for the leader type set of the line. Getting the combo version will net you a very impressive futuristic sci-fi truck with trailer that looks amazingly impressive.
The dominant colours here are white and navy blue. The overwhelming majority of the cab is cast in white plastic with a LOT of painted details. Dark silver is used for detailing and defining his grill and engine vent, with additional vent detailing on the sides of the truck and on the top of his rear wheel-well. The figure actually uses a lot of clear dark blue plastic to spice up the design, with it used for the narrow windshield and some fantastic detailing around his engine vent. What is impressive is that these bits are framed in silver paint. His front lights are also moulded in clear blue plastic, guarded by his impressive gray grill/brush-guard. The hubcaps on his front wheels are white while his rear wheels have got a dedicated "cover" on them cast in white and supported by dark blue arms with yellow vent detailing. The rear part of the truck might look a bit unfinished and under-detailed in comparison but that part is mostly hidden when he plugs on the trailer.
The trailer is a massive armature of layers [and layers] suspended and around a white frame. Due to the inner parts, the balance of white to navy blue is a bit more even here, with orange paint used to either pick out missile heads on the missile launchers or additional detailing on the rooftop [around the sword sheath]. Clear dark orange plastic shows a little bit on the sides that are formed by his robot mode wings. His wheels follow the motif of the back wheels of the cab--armoured by a white hubcap that is suspended by dark blue arms. He has three wheels on either side with two additional tiny blue plastic wheels used for rolling. The back piece where a license plate would be has got gunmetal gray paint on, and the sword that is sheathed at the top adds more silver and blue to the layout. The majority of the supporting frame is cast in white plastic with the insides coming off in a dark navy blue.
I would be lying if I said that this is not a bit busy visually. But I'd also be lying if I said it doesn't work. This figure is not trying to homage a 30 year old cartoon; this is picking up on an already busy comic book design and turning that up to 100. This is the mother of sci-fi trucks. When combined, the trailer and the cab look like a murderous combination of a bullet on wheels carrying a layered armature of badassery. Every inch of this figure works together to achieve that result; from the layered sculpt and the combination of paint and clear plastic framed by more paint of the cab to the interconnected pieces suspended by the frame on the trailer. The sculpt is rich in layers, vents and armour plating and there is a very generous amount of paint bringing those details out. The combination of blue and white certainly helps; any more blue would make the details hard to make out, and any more white would just wash away the layers of plastic on top of one another.
Seraphicus is not MP Magnus or Prime size, but he is big enough to demand an entire shelf to himself. The cab on its own is roughly 17 cm long, 5 cm tall and 6.5 cm wide. Combined with the trailer, he's an impressive 38 [!] cm in length, 12 cm in height and about 12 cm in width.
The vehicle mode may be a looker, but there's not much you can do with it. It rolls without issue on all wheels and the trailer has [unintentionally?] a lot of rails that you can attach c-clip weapons on. The cab plugs on to an overhanging piece of the trailer which allows a small amount of clearance to rotate it around as if it's turning or have it on a more "showcase" pose. The trailer does not have an attack mode and despite the multitude of vents, rails and plugs there is no place to store the two clear swords that came with the core figure. The revolver gun can plug on the top of the blue overhang near the front but it just looks silly on an otherwise great design. The front part of the cab's grill/hood can open to reveal a silver matrix of leadership.
There are up and downs to this vehicle mode. Obviously you need the complete set to fully appreciate this, but even then it is not without faults. The cab/trailer connection is a bit weak--the entire panel the plug is on can drop down if you try to pick the trailer up, and despite being a great connection, it could have used a bit of additional clearance to turn a bit more to the sides. The trailer, for all it's weight and complexity, is largely hollow and see-through from all angles. The cab is great from almost all angles but the robot mode lower legs just look a bit unfinished at the back. They don't feel out of place or unnatural, but compared to the rest of the sculpting they stick out.
On the bright side, this is definitely a looker. Either combined or apart both pieces look great, and the fact that a piece so complex can roll evenly on all wheels with clearance to boot is a small miracle [looking at you MP28 chasis dragging Hot Rod!]. The plastic is strong and the trailer does not feel weak or flimsy despite being made up of a myriad of pieces tabbing or clipping to each other.
Next up, how do the core robot and cradle fare?
Core robot mode and power cradle
Seraphicus has what I have come to expect as a "typical MMC" conversion process; frustrating the first few times, then easier as you know what moves and how. I will talk about the conversion back to vehicle mode towards the end of the review, but going to robot is comparatively simple.
It is at this point that the aforementioned age of the design starts to show; the top half of the robot is a 2008 Universe Sunstreaker/2010-1 RTS Perceptor deal. The front half swings around and down, arms unclip and unfold and spin around on the wheels who spin around on themselves to tuck on the inside of his torso. The head is on a platform that locks satisfyingly on a dedicated tab and the backpack locks somewhat flimsily on two prongs that extend from his spine. The legs pull a Universe Sunstreaker flip down with a lot of additional touches, such as the feet locking in place for truck mode, knee caps having dedicated locking points and tabs, panels flipping around to cover gaps and having even smaller panels flip around covering more gaps!
Seraphicus is no slouch at 18.5 cm to the top of his head and roughly 22.5 cm to the top of his swords on the backpack. He is taller than an MP carbot and among the bigger of the "medium" class MMC bots [Spartan, Anarchus, Feralcons].
There's one new colour introduced; a sparkly bright green, used for inner detailing on his neck/collar area and some vents on the armour just in front of that. His eyes are also painted in that same lovely green. The rest of him carries over the impressive blue/white colour scheme of the vehicle mode with a predominantly white torso and books/gloves with navy blue forearms/upper legs. Pretty much the only monochromatic areas are his biceps [navy blue] and his shoulder armour [white]. His feet are blue with white for the top of the foot area, his lower legs [that out of place back end of the cab] are a crispy white intertwined with silver-framed clear blue for his shin guards. The wheel-wells now form ornamental blue lines near his knees, with silver mechanical details brought up on his inner lower leg. His kneecap armour has got either end picked in gunmetal gray and his upper thighs have got a hint of orange to detail some vent sculpting. His torso is mostly white with a lot of clear blue plastic running in regal lines, framing a flip down panel that reveals a silver matrix nested in a sea of clear blue plastic. The lower arms/gauntlets have got that crisp layered armour look, with paint and clear plastic on different coloured plastic conspiring to make it appears as if there's three levels of depth on his arm. The fingers are cast in a navy blue plastic. His mouthplate is picked up with gunmetal gray but his entire helmet is unpainted white. The whole cockpit area of the truck clips inwards and tucks on his back on a most unobstructive backpack.
The busy sci-fi sculpt of the truck mode gives way to a regal, almost ancient look. The design lends itself nicely to an homage to Prima, an older Prime of a less futuristic design. The lower legs/boots and gauntlets evoke an older knight kind of look despite the futuristic space truck alt mode [the gauntlets are hidden away but those lower legs did look out of place]. The front part of the truck masquerades nicely and seamlessly as the central part of his torso and the collar/head area brings to mind a steampunk kind of visage. If there's a part that lets him down it's his upper arms, which look very plain in comparison, both in terms of sculpt and detail not picked out. This is in stark contrast to his gauntlets, which just look awesome, and his hands which remind one of armoured gloves. Of note is the great and expressive headsculpt. Thanks to a double-jointed ball neck joint and the sharp lines, he manages to look both heroic and downright evil depending on the angle and pose. His head is a bit flat, but the wingcrests on his helmet kind of take away from that. Unfortunately he does suffer from a very thin-looking neck.
Articulation is basic but by no means bad. The feet swivel back and forth and have got considerable inward ankle tilt. He has double-jointed ratcheted knees thanks to his transformation joint but they are a bit restricted thanks to the panels on his calves. His thighs swivel around just above the knee and his legs have got heavy ratcheted joints outwards and forward/back at the thigh/torso joint. The forward movement is a bit limited due to the crotch sculpt. His waist can swivel around [very limited if swords are on backpack!]. His shoulders are downright bad though. They look like ball joints but are actually a limited outward swivel that is based on a circular rotating joint that enables forward/back movement. The white shoulder armour clashes a lot with the chest sculpt so you can't get as much movement as you think you have. Thanks to the transformation joint you have enough of a butterfly joint going backwards but very little forward movement before things bump onto each other. He has a free swivel both above and below the double jointed elbow which, due to the sculpt, doesn't do much more than a single joint elbow would do. His hands are on ball joints at the wrist with very good inward movement but somewhat limited outward movement thanks to his gauntlet. Each finger is on a pin joint with the thumb being a ball joint [the design is almost identical to MMC's Hexatron]. As stated before, the neck is on a ball joint both at the base of the body and on the head, and he is not as restricted as you'd think with that big collar.
For accessories, he comes with a removable matrix [sculpt is different on either side, with one side being more "lighting your darkest hour" than the other]. He can't hold it that well thanks to his weird fingers. He also comes with two clear plastic swords, very similar in design to Hexatron's katanas. Despite being clear plastic, they are not really bendy or flexible. His box also advertises the blue revolver gun, but that's included in the cradle set. He can also hold the Star Saber-looking sword [included in the cradle set only].
The aforementioned cradle looks nice but does not do much. It stands firmly on a strong base and is balanced fairly well. The Nova/Prominon armour looks fierce, like a soulless creature that wants to devour your soul the moment you put it on. The cradle is tall [26cm], wide [23 cm] as well as deep [23 cm] when fully opened and those dimensions don't change much when you take all the parts off.
The armour looks great on display and one can imagine Iron-Man like sequences where the core bot jumps on and bits start encapsulating him, but for this century at least you will have to detach bits off and dress Seraphicus up yourself. The blue and white motif remains, with hints of orange on his new "gloves" and chest/waist armour. The wings remain hidden for the most part.
While the cradle adds to the visual experience of the set, it does not do much on the practical side. The revolver gun loses the plug hole it could sit on in truck mode and the Star Saber blade also loses its resting place. And again, despite the myriads of ways to do it, the blue swords still have no place to store.
There is no way around it---the set looks amazing in this mode and goes from a futuristic space truck to an ancient knight and pantry look via one transformation. The set is big enough to demand a shelf presence but not so big that it's overwhelming or overshadowing your other figures. The core figure has enough articulation to strike up some nice poses, but don't think you'll be able to pull off Cynicus or Azalea-level poses. The four weapons it has [if you get the whole set] strike a good balance between poses with a gun and short-range bladed weapons poses.
There are some drawbacks as well, which is a combination of both an ambitious design and the actual age of the design. The articulation is basic and sacrificed for the combined mode stability; his legs suffer from the lack of upper thigh swivel. His shoulders are just too restrictive and that's before you add on more pieces [see next part] which is a shame considering he actually has all the joints needed for some killer sword poses. His backpack is a bit on the flimsy side and if you have the swords on you can't turn his waist much in either direction as the blades will bump on his legs. His fists have got cut out channels that you slide or just plug his weapon handles in. These are not the proper size so he struggles holding his weapons if they don't flat out swivel off-centre on their own. Lastly, his power cradle lacking any storage for any of his four weapons is very unfortunate.
Next up, the main reason most buyers bought this---the combined homage to Nova Prime!
There are two armoured up options for customers that bought this set---you can actually dress up Seraphicus but exclude the helmet, chest and wings for an even more steampunk meets knight Prima homage, or you can just complete the look for a Nova Prime on steroids look. I will happily confirm that either way you go, articulation and stability remain unaffected.
Attaching the armour parts can be a tricky business the first time around. Do note that the instructions booklet completely omits the bicep fillers and also that you have to detach a lot of parts from c-clips, stiff c-clips on the armour cradle. This won't be a fun experience the first few times until you learn where to apply pressure and the best order to take parts out. Most of the parts either slot on existing plugs or wrap around the torso--the only instance that can be a bit of a chore on the "dress-up" is wrapping his lower boots around his legs.
Armoured up, Seraphicus looks amazing. He also grows in height as he's now roughly 22 cm to the top of his head* and even taller to the top of his wings. He trades a lot of white for a lot of blue, ending up with a predominantly navy blue chest, silver shoulders and blue wings [folded in]. He sadly does away with all the clear blue pieces; the majority of them are covered up by white, silver or blue. Orange is a bit more prominent too, as he now has orange missile tips on his hips, orange detailing on his torso and crotch, orange fingers and backpack tips and also clear orange wing feathers.
*mistransformation required, see details later on
In terms of sculpt, the regal ancient knight look has been forsaken in favour of a rough, bulky armoured angel motif. His lower legs are huge, an after-effect of two massive boots wrapping around his legs. The sculpt has sharp, brutal edges with clean cuts to showcase the frame within and bulky knee caps that frame his already existing pointy bits. His feet go from smooth to spiky and aggressive, and as a nice touch he has articulated boosters at the back of his legs painted in orange. His upper legs thicken up by attaching some missile launchers and he has a new crotch piece with articulated flaps that snaps on.
His shoulders gain clip on armour, doing away with the white and introducing bigger, rougher silver armour. His upper arms get a slot on filler to bulk them up on the side, and he wears gauntlets over his existing gauntlets. These have rougher edges [looks more like something you would wear to beat somebody to a pulp rather than the earlier regal set] picked up in gunmetal gray, some clear blue plastic and a knuckle/hand guard in gray. The hands are now bigger versions of his previous fists [covered up in this configuration] with exactly the same finger articulation and thankfully bigger channels to hold his weapons.
His bulked-up chest piece has a lot of vents and ridges picked up in orange, silver and white, with his abs being silver on an orange frame. The vents to the side of the front part are gray and the top backpack bits are painted orange. The paint on the white and the orange bits could have used another coat as it's still too thin showing some of the navy blue underneath.
His massive wings have got silver turbine detailing painted on bits of them and each wing has got four points of articulation and four individual moving feather parts. The maximum wingspan can go over 40 cm. The feathers are made up of dark orange clear plastic with navy blue paint on the ends to emulate a mechanical-almost riffle like look for each of them. Despite all the joints being friction joints the actual feathers aren't heavy so I don't see these loosening up anytime soon, and even so, all the screws are easily accessible.
The helmet is a bit of a disappointment---initial renders showed a very nice headsculpt but this has been changed to an open face helmet. You basically unclip the front and back pieces of the helmet and put them together over his head, so his faceplate and eyes are the same as before and look a bit recessed. The dark blue horns and crest look good but the helmet is not an exact fit. Moving it around can potentially make the face look a bit uneven and sunken in, not to mention that it doesn't really tab into place securely. In order to make him look the part you need to lift the platform that the main bot's head is on, otherwise the chin is way below the chest armour and can look like a kid wearing an adult's buff costume.
Thanks to his bigger hands Seraphicus can grip all his weapons better, although the two swords look too thin for him now and the revolver is just tiny in his hands. The Star Saber sword looks just a tad undersized for him but does the trick. As his backpack is the same you can still store his katanas back there. If not in his hands, the revolver still does not have a place to store.
Articulation is still restricted---he now loses the ball jointed wrists and his new hands only swivel at the base. His thigh swivel is too low and does not work well with his massive lower legs. His shoulders are even more restricted now that he has the wrap around chest piece and the snap on shoulder bits, and due to the stiffness of the joints, you may end up working the transformation joint instead of the shoulder swivel. He can still be balanced very well as his "sandals" provide a bigger footprint on a very articulated foot, and despite appearances his wings don't make him back-heavy.
At this point the power cradle reminds one of discarded sprue pieces from built model kits; a frame of white that looks like a dilapidated closet. It can't be folded back into a trailer because it's missing all it's internal bits; it looks like plastic strips with wheels. It can't store his extra weapons because it doesn't have available slots---you are essentially left with what looks like unused plastic.
Final thoughts on the figure---a commendable effort that looks great but doesn't handle that well. There are strong and weak points and in the end you can only be swayed to either side depending on how much you want a very good Nova Prime/Prima homage.
All modes look amazing and there are enough display options to cycle through them often; you can re-purpose him as a noble or evil ruler depending on his wardrobe on the day. The truck mode is a thing of beauty and both robot modes look different enough. Considering that he is a core robot dressed up, he still retains enough articulation and those wings are impressive. The level of attention to detail with clear bits, paint and sculpting is immaculate.
On the other hand, he is a delayed 2013 release and his engineering shows that; he would have benefited a lot if he wasn't a bigger Universe Sunstreaker. I find it puzzling that his cradle can't hold all weapons in both modes. His backpack hinge appears a bit weak considering that's where the torso/wing armour snaps on. Transforming him to truck mode [core robot] can be a bit of a tricky business before you get the hang of it and why oh why did they change the helmet/face?
Overall, this is a good release for the fans that have been patiently waiting for it. All his modes are distinct enough and he is an amazing display piece with a few flaws. If you are on the fence about him, I would recommend spending more and getting the full combo set; in an odd marketing decision the core figure packaging shows him with the revolver and Star Saber which are on the cradle set, and if you are buying this, chances are you are more into Nova Prime than Prima. You can be on the lookout for a Nemesis version at some point in the future.
Transformation Design: 6
A bit too fiddly on the core robot. Locking in the cab section requires some practice but should not feel so rough even when you have mastered it. Very tight tolerances in getting the arms into the space they need to be have me wary of snapping something at some point.
Despite my fears, nothing is broken yet or stressed. I would be a bit skeptical due to the number of clip on parts that you have to wrestle with to get off the cradle, but so far nothing. Some users have reported breaking the clear blue nubs on the underside of the truck, and I can see how that can happen with the tight tolerances, but it does not affect anything.
I guess. Once you get used to him, and on the transformation that everything goes smoothly and nothing jams up. It happens occasionally.
. He looks killer in all modes except for when you have all the armour bits off the cradle. From sci-fi bullet truck of death to noble Knight to brutal angel of death with a weird hat and glorious wings, he does not disappoint.
. Nothing fancy, but could have used more refined shoulders are his poses are hampered when in combined mode. I can see why he does not have thigh swivels higher but it doesn't do him any favours.
. Core figure is cheaper but you are missing out on half a figure. Combo set is relatively good value but 160 pounds can net you a heavier, more solid, bigger die-cast dinobot that you don't have to assemble for his third mode.
. Not a bad release, and this would have killed had it come out 3 years ago, but in the world of Feral Rex, FT Dinobots, some DX9 offerings and some updated MP figures, it is really going for the niche crowd with that price. Recommended if you are a fan of the company and the design.