REVIEW: Unique Toys Y-04 Allen

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That fucking green, though. He’s so green. Like, really green. It’s wonderful. Not that I’m saying Transformers have to be green to be good. I mean, Devastator is green and is good. Trees are green, in part, and I really like trees. Grass is green and grass is really good. But I look over at my collection and really there’s very little green. The chest panels on Maketoys Visualizers. Ironwill. Gundog. Acid Storm. Generations Allen. There’s a real green deficit going on, and Allen’s here to plug that gap.

Allen’s also a bit yellow. Some people have said they don’t like the yellow. But I like the yellow. It’s wonderful. Not that I’m saying Transformers have to be yellow to be good. I mean, Titans Return Weirdwolf is yellow and is good. The sun is yellow and I really like the sun. Cheese is yellow and cheese is really good. I look over at my collection and there’s actually a reasonable amount of yellow. Masterpiece Bumblebee. RiD Bumblebee. Generations Bumblebee. DX9 Carry. Brawny. Sunsurge. Sunstorm. FT’s dinos. Generations Allen. I’d say there’s only a minor yellow deficit going on, and Allen’s here to bolster the numbers.

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Note that I shan’t be referring to Allen as Springer because Allen, clearly, is by far the better name. The best name for a Transformer ever, in fact. Allen. Fucking triple-changing Allen. Allen The Big Green And A Bit Yellow Beast. Out of the box Allen offers a definite wow factor, I think due to the combination of colour and heft. And the name. Allen.

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Regarding the yellow feet – honestly, they don’t bother me. I think sometimes it comes down to whether a figure evokes the character in your mind, as opposed to slavishly depicts the character as was, be that the cartoon, G1 toy or comic. Cartoon accuracy is a nightmare, of course, because scale and sometimes even colour can be all over the shop. To me Allen ticks the nostalgia box completely. I see him and I see Allen, even if side by side with the source material there are differences. The boots are a bit big, admittedly, but it does give him a nicely stylised look.

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There’s no mistaking that this is a DX9 bot (albeit under the Unique Toys label). He has the trademark chunk, the trademark thick, soapish plastic. It’s a feel and form that I like and in hand Allen feels like one of their best efforts. Personally I also like the fact that in the box you’ll simply find a gun and sword/rotor (both of which clip in beautifully to the hands incidentally). I know some collectors are big fans of the myriad of accessories that often accompany MP releases, and that’s fine, but for me I’d always rather have a bot, a gun and a few quid off the price.

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It isn’t just in bot mode that Allen impresses, either. The helicopter is delicious. I don’t want to keep commenting on how ‘green’ and how ‘big’ he is, but the chopper is wonderfully green. And big. Again, it’s my mind’s Allen personified. It has rubber tyres, too, although the roll on mine isn’t 100% smooth. The car mode is a little less striking, but absolutely spot on to at least some of the source material. Generation Allen’s car mode is better, certainly, but it’s also nowhere near as faithful.

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As amazed as I was getting this guy out of the box, and as much as I love him in hand, the transformation doesn’t quite offer the same level of wonder. Some of it is as you’d expect – it’s DX9 so it takes some muscle to get some of the panels and hinges moving. There’s not too much in the way of tab aligning, and a couple of the frustrations pass once you figure out the bits the need a bit extra push, or the additional and partially hidden tab that holds everything together. A tool is most definitely needed, which is a bit of a bummer.

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The two knuckles that are revealed when you rotate the hands away actually have different configuration for helicopter and car – a step that eluded me at first and left me scratching my head about how to tab it all together. The two mounting points that come out of the hip, too, were a real frustration until I discovered the second set of tabs obscured on the underside that held the key to everything holding nicely.

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Most worrying, though, is the pin that holds the entire swinging foot assembly to the body. One of mine came away, and it’s not a surprise – it’s a tiny pin and the nature of the transformation means it can end up supporting a lot of weight. Weight that’s jiggled a lot, too, as there’s a lot of twisting and tweaking that goes on at the end of that piece as it’s hanging there. I was able to push it back in and hopefully tighten it back up with a spot of glue (it seems to be holding OK), but it’s a design foible that feels a bit Apollyon-ish to me. It’s a real shame as it’s left me nervous about spending more time with him. Protecting the connection is a nightmare as it’s put under strain more than once during every single transformation, and you’ll want to transform him too, as every mode is a joy. I’ve not seen anyone else mention the problem, though, so it may be an isolated issue.

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We’ve not even spoken about the bot. Scale-wise we’re definitely looking at something that sits comfortably among my Masterpiece movie shelf alongside Unique Toys Buzzing, Fanstoys Tesla, DX9 Carry and KFC Transistor and Crash Hog. He fits less well with the official Masterpieces, especially if MP-28 Hot Rod is your measure. I like the face mold. Allen looks every part the grumpy war veteran. Paint applications, where you find them, are generally good, although the yellow stomach blob on mine is a little uneven.

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Articulation is OK – there’s 90 degrees on the knee and elbow, and all the outward ankle tilt in the world. A fully bent elbow does result in a moved double-jointed elbow piece, however, and you’ll need to manually reposition it to straighten the arm. At the hip the leg goes back around 45 degrees, and forward a little less. Outward is around 90 degrees. Head articulation is plentiful, although the neck looks a little unnatural if too closely scrutinised.

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The torso holds really nicely once all of the tabs are secured. And I should also mention how wonderfully kibble-free the bot is. Look at that gorgeous behind. It’s quite an achievement, really, for a triple-changer. Aside from the questionable pin joint, the only other area of concern is the arms. They are a proper fucking fiddle to open up for transformation, not due to small parts but instead thanks to some very tight fitting panels. Even a few transformations down the line I still need a tiny flat head screwdriver to prize the sections apart.

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There’s also the issue that as great as the bot mode looks, he’s actually not hugely posable. I really had quite a bit of trouble getting a striking set of poses for the pictures. As someone who’ll often sit with a bot and spend time trying different poses, I found the fun well ran dry surprisingly quickly. There’s pleasure to be found in the fact that he’s built so well, holds together so well and looks just great, but there’s definitely an element of missing dynamism that holds him back from the higher echelons of 3P achievements.

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CONCLUSION

When I first started doing these reviews I dabbled with the idea of a three-tier rating system. Shit, Good, Great, or something. In the end I settled on a five star system and I was very firm with myself that I should not award half stars, as that effectively makes it a ten point scale and that feels too nebulous to my mind, like video games mags that used to score games out of 100. As a result I’ve really wrestled with whether Allen is a three or four star figure.

And the truth is I can’t decide. The out of the box impact is huge, and I really like all of his modes. The transformation is reasonably straightforward, yet still somehow fiddly. And he looks fantastic. The leg pin is a worry and, despite having three genuinely great modes, the bot somehow lacks the character fitting of something that’s going to stand out so brightly in your collection. Three stars feels too few and four too many, and thus, the inevitable has happened.

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