Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Steel Knights, or Paper Tigers?

 -mantis nine nines

The Transformers fan is a unique creature in the menagerie of robot aficionados. Obviously in love with blocky and angular robotic design, but equally enamoured with an anatomically humanoid style and personality. Not content with unfeeling machines, Transfans require the flavor of sentience in their bots. It makes for a fun and lively collection, but sometimes I find myself in need of something less human and more mechanical.

Macross, Mospeada, Mechwarrior, Zoids, I find these purely mecha toys refreshing. And M.A.S.K. and Exo Squad scratch an itch with their sci-fi pilot/vehicle integration. All of these are fun in their own way but I always longed for something more. Which brings me to JoyToy and their Steel Knights line. A visit to the Show.Z Store website shows the Knights listed alongside a wide range of Third Party Transformers, and with the web of connections in that market I think it likely JoyToy is part of the same family. I don't know any facts, this is just speculation, but it seems highly likely.

Steel Knight HZ1287 on patrol

Truly this is a product produced for my tastes. The convergence of realistic Mecha designs, detailed paint work, highly posable human figures, and all at a scale so close to my beloved 1:24 it's indistinguishable. Everything that Exo Squad promised at retail, this delivers, albeit in an expensive straight-from-China manner.

 I'm no expert on Titanfall, but to ignore the similarities between these designs and concepts is impossible. What videos exist on YouTube have comment sections full of Titanfall fans ripping these as knock offs of the McFarlane BT-7274 or Play Arts Kai Atlas.

To be fair, Titanfall itself follows in a long tradition of power armor and mechs, so I would personally stop short of referring to these as KOs or rip-offs, but it's certainly in the eye of the beholder.

Top images from the Titanfall Wiki, photo above from the Show.Z Store

What is not open to interpretation is the QC I encountered. I wish I could say otherwise but there were some major problems. The packaging is awesome but once open I found the plastic bubble was ruined and accessories were rattling around loose. There was some small paint damage, but since it has a battle-worn aesthetic this is easily ignored. But due to that generous NECA style paint weathering, the left hip ball joint on my mecha was frozen solid. I boiled, froze, wiggled, used a hair dryer, nothing worked and it finally snapped. Thanks to my generous supply of Bionicle parts I was able to drill out and replace it, but if you aren't down for DIY you will need to ship it back.

The pilot figure had a snapped-off left leg out of the package, and the right soon followed it. Again I think paint lock is to blame.

Heavy duty outer box (L) inner box (M) and clamshell (R) give a premium feel and presentation.
Pilot has had a bad day. Note the paint locked, sheared leg joints.

When you play in the wild west of bootleg and non-mainstream collectibles you take your chances. Sometimes you score a great value, and sometimes you feel ripped off. This falls in the middle for me.

I must admit my enthusiasm for the line took a hit with the bad QC but I intend to try at least one more time. Unfortunately there are few reviews up anywhere so it's hard to judge if QC is this bad line wide.  

Perhaps it's my age showing but my appreciation of having this kind of stuff at this scale is too good to pass up. 

The mech is leader/ultra sized and very heavy. No diecast but thick plastic gives weight.

So what do you think? Anyone else out there collecting the Steel Knights? Drop me a comment or Tweet and let me know! Thanks for reading and keeping it #Refined

Contact Dan on Twitter @mantisninenines 

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