So, for the first Transformer customisation featured on this blog, I’m going for something simple: sticker-based customs. Reprolabels make and sell labels to “restore and improve” Transformers toys. As I understand it, they started off selling reproductions of the stickers which came with G1 toys, which collectors used for restoration purposes, but they branched out to producing sets of stickers to make toys more cartoon- or movie-accurate, and to help customisers finish off their work.
So, my test subjects for this experiment are R’s Prime Vehicon and my own Prime Smokescreen. Both have a thing or two missing from their default decor, Smokey perhaps more so.
So, with the stickers applied, let’s have a look at the Vehicon. The vehicle mode now sports headlights and tail-lights, and has chromed windows rather than clear plastic.
Reprolabels offered a choice of license plates. I favoured “XPENDBL” or “CANTFLY“, but it’s R’s Vehicon, so we went with “STEVE“. I was pleased to note that there were spares of the fiddly tail-lights and of the Decepticon sigils (I might find other uses for some of these spares…).
In robot mode, the vehicon benefits from more-detailed vehicle kibble, and an improved blaster, as well as Cadburys-foil-purple detailing on the edges of the torso, and some extra “lights” on the legs and blaster that really break up these otherwise rather plain black patches. The Vehicon is one of the nicest toys in the Prime line, but adding some splashes of brighter colour makes him even nicer.
Smokescreen’s labels were much more extensive, coming on two sheets, one on white backing, and one on chrome. His alt-mode is almost completely covered in decals, with chromed windows (which mean that his robot-mode hands are no longer visible through his front window), metallic blue racing stripes, and show-accurate door decals and an Autobot badge in the centre of his bonnet – because even as a “Robot in Disguise” he apparently can’t resist emblazoning himself with both his personal heraldry and that of the Autobot Elite Guard.
There was, again a choice of vanity license plates included. “ELITE-G” didn’t get a look-in from me. I chose “PSHIFTER” after much deliberation between that and “PHASEOUT“, freeing up “ROOKIE” to go on my Prime Hotshot.
His robot mode has decals to match-up the faux-vehicle-parts on his chest, and an enormous array of extra details to make him more screen-accurate. His shoulders gain the heraldic winged Autobrands of the Elite Guard, and red flashes in the corner that are missing from the original toy. His arms, crotch, thighs, knees, forelegs, ankles and feet all get detailed-up to match his cartoon counterpart.
A few of these decals needed their edges trimmed from the sticker sheet with a knife, since they hadn’t been as thoroughly cut as the rest of the sheet. An awful lot of the decals in this set were extremely hard to place accurately, I recommend using two small pairs of tweezers, and having a cocktail stick on-hand to push down errant corners, especially on the smaller stickers, and those that are used to colour inset areas of sculpted detail. During my post-graduates studies I built a few machines that could (very loosely) be called robots, and applying stickers to this toy robot needed a steadier hand than that.
All-in-all, having applied these two sticker sets, I can record the following impressions:
- This process is extremely fiddly, and requires patience, good lighting, patience, tweezers and patience.
- It’s imperative to check all the sticker’s edges before removing it from the sheet, if you want to avoid tearing. Of course you want to avoid tearing!
- The results are fabulous: my purple-trimmed Vehicon looks like some sort of space-pimp, and Smokescreen looks much more like he does in the animation.
- The chrome stickers are extremely shiny, and put me in mind of the stickers I remember applying to G1 toys when I was a kid (rather than a kid a very convincing “adult” disguise). This is a very good thing.
So, do I recommend this product? Yes, I think I do, I’m pleased with the results, which are well worth the fuss of placing dozens of tiny stickers. I think the odds are, I’ll almost certainly buy some more of Reprolabels’ stuff in the future, which is as good as indication as any as to whether I’m happy.