Greetings and salutations, my fellow geeks, geekettes, Autobots and Decpticons! If you’re a child of the 80’s, you’ve definitely grew with some amazing cartoons and toys the decade had to offer. There were no shortages of cartoons back then with the likes of Thundercats, G.I. Joe, Ninja Turtles, Duck Tales, He-Man- the list goes on and on! And let’s not forget the one’s brought over from Japan that were repurposed for English speaking audiences like Beast King GoLion was made into Voltron, or Super Dimension Fortress Macross was redub into Robotech. But there was one that ranked above all of them (well, depends on who you asked anyway) and that was the Ttansformers!
The original Transformers cartoons first aired in the United States back in September 17th, 1984 to November 11th, 1987, with a total of 98 episodes and a feature length movie. The basic premise of the cartoon revolved around two warring factions of sentient robots from the planet Cybertron: the heroic Autobots led by Optimus Prime and the evil Decepticons led by Megatron. After eons of war, their homeworld of Cybertron is in ruins, their battle followed them to Earth where the Autobots made it their new home and have sworn to protect it, vowing not to repeat the mistake of the past.
The toys that would eventually become Transformers, were mostly based on toys that were already on Japanese toy shelves like Takara’s Diaclone and Microman toys, Bandai’s Macross transformable jets. This venture between Hasbro and the various Japanese toys companies became a fruitful one as the Transformers brand still stands to this day.
Now with the history stuff out of the way, let’s get into the model kit portion. It occurred to me there hasn’t been much merchandise for Transformers model kits. But as of late there seems to be some hope with companies such Flame Toys and YoloPark scratching that itch and bridging the gap between plastic model enthusiast and Transformer fans.
The first such attempt (that I can recall at least) was the Dual Model Kit from Takara back in 2011. Only three model kits were ever produced throughout its entire run, consisting of Optimus Prime and Bumblebee based on their appearance in Dark of the Moon, and another Optimus from Age of Extinction. What’s worth noting about the Dual Model Kit line introduced a prebuilt endoskeleton that you attach armor piece onto. Think of it as an early version or even precursor to Bandai’s Hi-Resolution kits- action figure on the inside, model kit on the outside. The kit’s outer amor pieces were considered quite detail and intricate and closely resembled the movie counterparts. Unfortunately, the kits were known to be rather fragile as many who had the opportunity to build them, have reported how armor would fall off or just break when assembling or posing respectively.
Despite the flaws, these kits now have become rather sought after by collectors as they are rarely reissued.
Fast forwards to 2017, Flame Toys, a new Hong Kong based company, that creates and distributes high quality action figures and model kits licensed out by Hasbro. Flame Toys’ model kits are labeled under their Furai line products and has a wide range of releases since its inception. The first Furai kit was an anime-stylized version of Optimus Prime. While their first few releases were not up to par with the likes of Bandai or even that of Kotobukiya when it came to the construction; pegs needed shaved, polycaps breaking, and joints that are too stiff to the point of snapping off. Thankfully, these kinks were ironed out with future releases. Additionally, the Furai kits are equivalent to the size of an average HG, but touted with over 40-points of articulation, giving the kit much range and posability.
Flame Toys have a rather diverse line up for the Furai kits, ranging from anime redesigns of classic characters, G1 (Generation 1), and my personal favorite; the IDW comic designs. Also, Flame Toys happen to be the first company to produce fembot (female transformers) kits- the first being their Windblade, with the next one being fan-favorite Arcee.
Over the past few years, there have been many model kit companies popping all over China. And I know what you’re thinking, China has this bad rep for bootlegging kits form Bandai, but things surely have changed with the emergence of companies such as Eastern Model, ZD, ThreeZero being licensees of Hasbro to produce official merchandise. One such company is called Trumpeter. While not really all that well known, but they’ve taken on the challenge of producing these inexpensive 5-inch model kits based on the recent Bumblebee movie that they’ve dub Smart Model Kits. The model kits appear to be pre-painted on the runners and don’t really require cutters, thus making them great for children. Once assembled, the finished product does look amazing and closely resemble their movie counterpart, and can be a cheaper alternative for fans.
The first the releases include Bumblebee and Blitzwing and have been rather successful as more have been announced with many characters like Cliffjumper, Arcee, Wheeljack will be released this year.
Lastly, we have YoloPark’s impressive Optimus Prime from the Bumblebee movie! This beauty is still in the prototype stage and when it was unveiled to the public at conventions, it totally got fans attention. Just by looking at it, you’d be forgiven for mistaking this for a masterpiece figure, something from either Threezero’s diecast figures or Toyworld’s Optimus. Throughout the kit, you can see all the intricate details all the body, from the exposed pistons to inner frame and the rivets. It can open his chest to expose the Matrix of Leadership! Furthermore, from the few lucky individuals who’ve gotten an early sample, this Optimus has a wide range of articulation and panels that will move as you bend the limbs. One notable example has to be the spine as they’ll accordion as crunch to the front or back- Despite how clunky it may look; this Optimus is a poser!
One important thing to take note here is that Yolopark has two versions of the Bumblebee Optimus Prime hitting the market- one is this, the model kit, while the other is a diecast figure ala Metal Build style. So, please make sure to check with your seller on which is up for order and not to get the two mixed up. If you’re in the market for the model kit, you can just contact us directly for an order.
Now, here’s a couple of questions: for long time Transformers fans, would you consider getting these model kit Transformers that don’t really transform? Second, avid plamo builders, would you willing to give these kits a try?
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