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Thread: Toy Review - Unique Toys Challenger (Masterpiece style AOE/TLK Optimus Prime)

  1. #1
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    Default Toy Review - Unique Toys Challenger (Masterpiece style AOE/TLK Optimus Prime)

    Here's my review of Unique Toy's version the AOE/TLK Optimus Pirme.

    I will say this right off the bat. Challenger is not perfect, but design wise it's one of the closest to an official Masterpiece style figure I've ever seen from a 3rd party. I'll talk more about it below.

    And you would've already seen a millions amazing photos of this figure by now if you're even vaguely interested, so I'll try and keep my crappy photos to a minimum.

    TRUCK MODE:












    I've had the Optimus western star truck as wallpaper at work for about two months leading up to the release of Challenger, and I'm happy to say in this layman's eyes the truck mode is quite spot on. What stands out to me is the internal proportions are very accurate and it looks like the real thing. The overall shape of the truck is definitely better than the Alien Attack's take or the upcoming Toy World version. The majority of critical visual cues are all there including the over-sized fuel tanks and the real exhaust. The tampo printed flame details look sharp and are mostly accurate to the real thing. There are of course some inaccuracies, for example the grill is missing the blue stripe and the flame should extend to the roof as well. The hub caps are wrong. However I think the designer was probably looking at an early concept art when doing the research. The back end of the truck is the most inaccurate part of the whole thing, but it's not too bad considering the engineering behind it; it has kind of a working trailer hitch that flips up just like the real thing would. The brake light details are there, just not painted; considering the four big ones will be covered in 'bot mode, it's a bit of a missed opportunity. Overall, solid truck mode. What is does right makes you appreciate the engineering a lot more.

    TRANSFORMATION:


    The engineering is fantastic. The inside-out transformation scheme is no news now but this is even more impressive than Peru Kill, in that there's more mass to shift from a truck cab to a humanoid than a flat wedge shaped car does. I personally love the knight Prime design for what it is and the beautifully streamlined Western Star truck mode, but at the same time disliked this design (and the whole aesthetic shift in AOE really) for a long time assuming we'd never get a toy that can recreate both modes without breaking laws of physics. What's more difficult for the knight Optimus design is he's mostly made up of cylindrical shapes, unlike Lockdown where hard edge corners and straight lines can be still be found. What's more impressive, is that the transformation is no where near complicated as the pure cancer that is Alien Attack's El Cid. To quote Split Up from their MP Dinobot review, "it does a little to achieve a lot." It's a miracle already that this thing transforms let alone in such an effective, fluid, and elegant way. The whole transformation scheme, the compromises chosen in both modes, and the little bits here and there just make it feel like an official design to me. Okay maybe the manufacturing standard is not quite there yet, but the design itself definitely does, which is the biggest compliment I could give to a 3rd party designer. Keep in mind, this was done by one single designer; they don't have a whole team to brain-storm with or bounce ideas off of.

    The tolerances are generally good, except where paint or chrome is involved it could be a hit or miss. Plastic quality isn't the best (chips and forms particles around tab holes quite easily from normal use) but does the job okay. Some connecting pieces or small pieces that have pins shot through for movement are made in the soft PA plastic you find on official figures, and chunky load bearings pieces are in alloy.

    It's had some minor QC problems and none of which looks to be design but more production. So yeah, it's one thing you can model an amazing transforming figure in Solidworks, it's another to be able to mass produce it.

    'BOT MODE:




    The 'bot is just as impressive. Decently sized (a head taller than MPM 4 Prime). Has majority of the visual cues present. The overall sculpt is excellent and I though the designer did a great job studying and re-creating the finer details on Optimus. And the back, oh yeah, for a transforming Knight Prime, you know it's gonna be tough to do better than this.

    Paint/finish is pretty good in person. The silver looks particularly nice, and the tampo'ed flame details on intricately-shape armor pieces are wonderfully executed. The light-up feature is something I didn't expect I'd enjoy this much. Especially love the Nemesis Prime head with the red LED eyes.









    Articulation in the upper body is fantastic. The butterfly joints are great for a sword-wielding character, and the lateral movement in the wrist helps too. The hip joints are ratcheted in every direction but front to back, which could be problematic over time. There's a set of pull down joint in the hips too ala a lot of the Japanese action figures, to give extra clearance for more extreme poses. But herein lies the problem, his knee joints bend only 90 degrees due to sculpt, and the ankles have no front to back movement at all due to transformation. There's pinned toe joint there but it's really for transformation and doesn't hold much weight at all. So his ankles kinda suck and make his lower body pose options very limited. However, again I don't mind the comprise here for transformation; if TT ran into the same problem, they'd probably do the same for the sake of a fluid transformation.

    So back to my point in the beginning, all these design choices, compromises included, really make it almost feel like an official design--not quite perfect, but always making the right compromise.










    Comparisons with the CGI model. Without actually having the CGI files to work with, I think the designer did a great job capturing the character.

    OVERALL:

    Challenger is flawed, but mostly not by design. Production is just something that 3rd party projects are gonna have to learn through experience. But it does so much right, especially the engineering that minor flaws can easily be overlooked. This is gonna go down as one of the best 3rd party figures for its engineering ingenuity, and is easily the top 3 figure of the year for me.

  2. #2
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    Great review. I can’t wait to recieve mine.

  3. #3
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    What time to be alive that toy engineering has reached this far. He looks amazing

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    Quote Originally Posted by FruitBuyer View Post
    What time to be alive that toy engineering has reached this far. He looks amazing
    And I reckon that’s the best looking robot butt I’ve seen in a long time.

  5. #5
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    I don't follow 3P toys but the mass shifting from truck to robot mode looks amazing.


    Quote Originally Posted by Omega Metro View Post
    And I reckon that’s the best looking robot butt I’ve seen in a long time.
    You worry me sometimes. No buts about it.

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    Great review, and on point. I love my UT Challenger, it fits in beautifully with the other MPMs on the shelf. The design and engineering is some of the best I've seen in a figure, particularly a third party. As you say, the transformation is a joy, the flame pinstriping is well done and overall they nailed this one.

    The images presented before release really sold this one for me, I was interested at the prototype stage with its streamlined design, particularly the lack of truck kibble backpack. Once the colour images came out it was an instant sell.

    I highly recommend this figure if you're interested in a TLK Optimus.

  7. #7
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    Thanks guys

    Quote Originally Posted by AJ_Prime View Post
    Great review, and on point. I love my UT Challenger, it fits in beautifully with the other MPMs on the shelf. The design and engineering is some of the best I've seen in a figure, particularly a third party. As you say, the transformation is a joy, the flame pinstriping is well done and overall they nailed this one.

    The images presented before release really sold this one for me, I was interested at the prototype stage with its streamlined design, particularly the lack of truck kibble backpack. Once the colour images came out it was an instant sell.

    I highly recommend this figure if you're interested in a TLK Optimus.
    Agreed on all points. I was the same, sold way before its release; and it was a loooong wait

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