The Great KO Debate.

You know if I put “Wei Jang” into google translate or something like that and it told me it meant “well hung” that would make perfect sense to me…

I’ve seen a lot of comments on various forums and Facebook groups about this whole official / third party / KO business and just wanted to say my thoughts about it all. Apparently, it’s quite a long thought…

A long time ago, I was sat with my masterpiece Grimlock and I said to myself “official Masterpiece figures only for my collection”. That rule folded so quickly it made my staying off the chocolate cakes rule seem relevant.

I love my MP10 Optimus Prime figure. I actually bought it twice because it’s that glorious, of course because I am also an idiot I have somehow managed to open both boxes instead of leaving one of them sealed for its precious “MISB” status, anyway, basically this figure to me was the business. However, sometimes we have to be honest with ourselves and this figure I believed to be perfection, well, let’s be actually honest, it isn’t. It’s bloody close, a solid 9.8 out of 10, but it could be said some of his joints are a tad on the floppy size. It’s size, weight, quality, accessories all of it is absolutely amazing, just a few flailing limbs pops the perfect 10/10 dream, but I don’t care, I love this figure and it makes the 7-year-old inside of me very happy indeed.

My masterpiece collection was coming along very nicely, much to the chagrin of my wallet, in fact out of all the ones I want, I am only missing Thundercracker and I hope someday he will be re-released. What became apparent to me is, they never really reached the lofty heights of MP10 again. The first seeker I got was Skywarp, for some reason he was on sale in Argos for £19.99 or something like that, might have been £16.99, anyway, I have 2, one is MISB this time! As they came out though, I found that they just didn’t have that “wow” MP10 gave me. All the time this was going on, I was watching you tube videos of various third-party figures so slowly but surely, they started to infiltrate my collection. I felt like I was being unfaithful to the official brand, but, some of these figures I just could not resist!

Before long I had quite a few third-party figures and they were all over my room on display collecting dust. I was faffing about with Fans Toys Iron Dibots Soar one day taking the first layer of dust off of the top of his wings thinking about how cool he actually was and something dawned on me. The quality was shifting, if not had completely shifted in favour of the third-party figures.

Yes, some third-party figures have quality control issues, my Apollyon is still MISB because I am simply too afraid to open it for fear it will fall to pieces the moment he’s in hand, but overall the official figures although still good, where being left behind. This became really apparent a little later when during a wallet wounding month I found myself with both a Masterpiece Ramjet and a Fan Toys Stomp arriving at the same time. I was comparing these figures and it was clear, Stomp was far, FAR superior.  Plastic,  in literally everyway Stomp was a significantly better figure. The seeker hasn’t been out of his box since. The kicker, these figures were pretty much the same price.

I found myself with mixed emotions over the continuing Masterpiece line, I disappointed with masterpiece Hotrod, it felt more like a combiner wars toy to me than it did a Masterpiece figure, he was a nice price, but still more “toy” than “Masterpiece”.  Tracks looked great in car mode apart from the head in the windscreen but I didn’t rate the robot mode and found it fiddly and delicate, especially up top. Inferno, well, I loved Inferno. That disappearing ladder thing is wicked cool, but, did they just forget to detail his legs? Stand him next to MP10 Optimus, go on, look at the legs. There is a difference there. It’s the same with Ironhide & Ratchet, just no real detail anymore, although I did get a kick out of his wheel butt cheeks thing, I thought it was funny. I get they are going more “cartoon” but the issue is they didn’t do that to start with, so figures like Ironhide and Inferno, although really cool in their own right, don’t match with figures like Optimus or Soundwave even though they are part of the same line.

I picked up a few more third-party figures along the way, Pheonix for example, and the quality was consistent and in some cases, just awesome. In fact during all of this period I was only disappointed by a single third party figure. MMC Anubis just wasn’t the Death’s head I was looking for.

The official Combiner wars line, or the repaint wars as some have referred to it as, what is going on there? don ‘t get me wrong some good figures I like, but so many repaints, isn’t there 9 versions of 1 of the moulds? That’s crazy. Also Brawls weird waist, you cannot tell me someone finished designing Brawl, tested him, showed him to a few mates and said “yes, that is the best we can do here”. I know there are budget and time restraints, but his waist is poor.

The Titans Return line, cannot help but notice there has been a bit of a price jump here!  Again, yes, has been some really cool figures like that voyager Megatron but there is something about them. I know Combiner Wars and Titans returns are indeed toys, whereas the Masterpiece line is more… well, adult toys, or collectors items as some like to refer to them as, still as far as these Titan Returns toys go, something about something just feels… well… cheap and with the price jumps, I don’t want my figures feeling cheap!

And now, finally, the KO’s. Knock Off’s… A lot of the time they are cheap, crappy and sometimes funny to look at things that I love watching Thew destroy in his beat down videos. I was never going to get a KO, (Apart from an accidental Sideswipe off Ebay which I replaced a few years down the road thanks to a Kapow! sale) then steps up Wei Jang.

MPP10. Yes, they stole the design of MP10, no real work was actually done for them to take credit for. I want to be clear that they get no credit from me for this, they literally just upsized it.

Good god how amazing is that figure?! They took a figure I classed as nearly a very near 10 and made it better, does that make it an 11?! Has my “out of 10” scores for figures I’m plotting and not gotten off the ground yet been ruined already? Yeah, pretty much. This figure is fantastic. Extra little bits of details, quality, paint and his limbs, not even slightly floppy! the fact of the matter is, I believe MPP10 to be the best available version of a transforming G1 Optimus Prime and I believe this will be pretty much impossible to beat, ever. I love this figure, it’s a dirty knock off, but I love this figure!

Was this going to be a one off? Could this be the “one and only” of the KO transformers world a one hit wonder of quality in a dark corner of the market.

Well… No.

The M01 movie Optimus Prime. More of the same glorious wonderful quality. It’s just SO good and pretty to look at! I want to get the evasion mode one, but it keeps selling out, I will get one, one day though and it will be fantastic. I’ve also picked up the battle-damaged version of MPP10, sometimes I find myself just looking at it thinking how pretty it is.

I also picked up the robot force detective figure, the movie hound KO. Movie Hound represents a slight problem for me in that I didn’t much care for the movie (more on that another day) and I feel he’s more bulkhead than Hound, but either way a good figure. The only other KO I have bought is the Robot Hero CG-01 oversized. I like my Starscreams white, not grey this figure with its panel lining looks beautiful in jet mode and I think jet to someone like smokescreen scales well. As a side note, he is missing a finger but other than that, he’s great. He was half the price of the official one.

The official masterpiece line did come back out swinging with Megatron, I said to a friend a couple of years ago that they would never do a good Megatron again as he’s a gun, they made a liar out of me and did a great figure. After Megatron I got the masterpiece Movie Bumble and then Optimus Prime. Straight away I noticed a real change in the quality of the box and instructions, just cheap rubbish really. The figures, yes, very good, are they masterpiece quality.. debatable, I’d say nearly masterpiece, so close, feel like they are just a few tweaks away from being Masterpieces, but, so close is still, a bit of a miss. When I first got Bumblebee initially I wasn’t all that impressed, I said to Andy from Kapow! that I didn’t much rate him. I did give him another chance and a few more fiddles and he did grow on me and I do like him more than I initially thought. I think Sunstreaker is next up and not sure what to expect, but I will be comparing him to MP10 and Sideswipe to see how he fairs compared to them. I have some hope, just not much.

During all this I was staying away from the KO, I want to support the official. Then I saw a cheeky little video for the oversized Voyager Megatron. Good grief. They look to have done basically exactly what Hasbro should have done with the leader class but didn’t. I’ve not ordered him yet as I want to see how the third version comes out as if it has that cool face gimmick, but I will be buying it. Simple fact.

Third party wise I think next up I have Fan Toys Omega.. I have no clue where I am going to put that monster, but look at him! I am more excited for him than I am Sunstreaker. I also have the Kup pre-ordered and I am quite looking forward to him, I’ve always liked Kup and I think the name Koot is hilarious! I just think the masterpiece line needs to up it’s game a little.

So, the actual question, do KO’s damage the market?

I am sorry to say it, but, I would say yes. The problem is they are releasing better figures for cheaper, swiping the designs. So Hasbro design and develop and that cost must be covered the KO’s don’t really have that problem as the design bit is done, they just steal it and add a bit of spit and polish. If you are buying only KO’s then, I hate to say it, you are hurting the collecting community at large. I know we have Brexit and the weak pound going on over here, but that only accounts for some of the noticeable price increase that came along with Titans Return line, I am quite some of it is the market picking up KO’s instead and Hasbro, who are a corporate company after all, are just trying to recoup some losses as they are only really interested in profit.

It will be interesting to see the price point for the Power of the Primes line that is on it’s way, did you see that Grimlock? If that raises again, more people will buy the KO’s and the cycle continues, then what happens if Hasbro say, you know what, it’s been a good 35 years for the brand, but we aren’t getting the shiny things we once were out of it, lets have a break. No Hasbro figure, no shiny KO to buy.

In short, I think the frustrating thing is that Optimus Prime, Soundwave and Megatron show us that the official figures have greatness in them, but then a Tracks or a seeker repaint comes along and we feel disappointed, yes sometimes the KO’s are great and even better, but make sure you have the official one to balance it out!

Just my thoughts, I’m off for a chocolate cake…

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