It feels like it’s been forever since FT-10 Phoenix was teased by Fans Toys. In fact, the initial reveal was just a black silhouette over three years ago, in April of 2014. It appears that since then, Fans Toys took some time to work on other projects like their “Dibots,” but in 2016 we finally got to see actual renders and prototypes of their unofficial Skyfire. Today (or at least a few weeks ago when I really got him), I own him!
I’ve been keeping my distance from third-party Masterpiece Transformers as of lately. First of all, it’s an expensive habit. Takara’s increased production schedule has made it easier to steer clear as well. But overall, my opinion is that the entire third-party market is very predatory of collector’s (myself included) biggest weakness, patience. With each and every character that was at some point “never going to happen officially” happening, I’m more and more hesitant to jump back into the third-party Transformers pool.
That said, I took my chances with this guy. I was in the mood for something large. Titan-Class Trypticon is a ways off for me because I’ll wait for the sub-$100 holiday sales, so Phoenix really scratched that itch. I also had one of those $15 eBay coupons, which brought him a little under $200. If you can’t already tell, the mental gymnastics I will go through to justify buying something I want are pretty remarkable.
Is Phoenix a worthy addition to the Fans Toys collective? I think so. He’s certainly not perfect, but he’s still a ton of fun and really captures that G1 cartoon aesthetic. Phoenix is also a BIG robot. He towers over MP-10 Optimus Prime; in fact he’s nearly twice as tall as him. I had a hell of a time fitting that jet-mode into my light tent.
While Phoenix is certainly a sight to behold, I still feel like there are a few things missing to complete the package. First of all, he’s large but not heavy. This is probably more of an observation than a complaint. While the Fans Toys’ Dinobots were never quite as tall as Phoenix, they always had a decent amount of heft to them. Phoenix seems to use a lot less diecast than previous releases, so he doesn’t have that extra weight. I may be spoiled by past third-party and official releases, but I am disappointed that there are no alternate faces. I like when my robots are expressive. Phoenix’s facial expression is very neutral and emotionless. I want a little more. With a $200+ action figure I don’t believe an addon pack should be a necessity, but here we are!
As far as accessories go he’s pretty bare-bones. A rifle, alternate chest plate, a clear blue thing, and an adapter to put him on previous Fans Toys’ stands are all that is included. Takara has upped their accessory game, so Fans Toys should follow suit. Maybe include an actual stand instead of assuming I bought their Galvatron or Swoop? Some blast effects? Something else to mess around with or enhance my Phoenix experience would be nice.
It’s really starting to sound like I’m displeased with this figure, but I’m not. However, the hands also bother me more than they should. I think I prefer the less functional but more aesthetically pleasing hands on figures like Masterpiece Megatron. The functionality of Phoenix’s hands are great! They can do just about anything. However, they are so segmented that they clash with the smoothness of the rest of his body’s sculpt.
I was actually surprised at how easy his transformation was. I stress a lot over the first time I transform a new figure, especially the ones as expensive as Phoenix. I’m happy to say it all went pretty smooth! The only thing I would probably look out for is clipping his backpack in. Out of the box he comes in robot mode but the backpack is not clipped in. DO NOT try to force it because it will break. Instead take the time to put him in jet-mode and then back to robot mode. You need to slide that clip in when you are folding out the head, otherwise you stand to break the thing by forcing it. Other than that everything feels strong and makes sense.
Nitpicks aside I’m pretty pleased with how Phoenix turned out. He’s not the most complicated robot in the world, but he is giant and imposing. For the price I’d prefer he come with a few more accessories. If you can get him for less than $200 then I think he’s well worth it, especially if you are a fan of the character. Now I suppose the big question is, “will Takara eventually make him?” At this point, never say never. Sunstreaker and Shockwave are now a reality, so I believe that anything is on the table for a possible Masterpiece release. If you need something now, though, this is the one to get.