Hello Internet! Those of you who’ve read our report from Auto Assembly 2015 might remember that I said I’d bought a really nice third-party not-Dinobot-honest called Columpio, made by a company called Fansproject.
Columpio isn’t a terribly new figure: indeed FigureFanZero reviewed him nearly a year ago. (Incidentally, I can highly recommend FFZ’s blog to anyone interested in collecting little plastic men/robots. He writes informative & witty reviews, and has diverse tastes. Also, there’s an index of his myriad reviews, which can provided useful info on a range of particular figures.)
Anyway, I thought I’d string together a little review of the figure; I paid much more for him than I would normally pay for a toy robot, but I think he was well worth it.
So Columpio is part of a line called “Lost Exo-Realm”, which is one of many third-party toylines inspired by the G1 Dinobots that have sprung up since the last Michael Bay Transformers movie. It seems that almost every third-party company has done some not-Dinobots: either stand-alone figures or a Dino-Combiner of some sort. What makes Fansproject’s line more unusual is two features: firstly, their not-Dinobots are specifically inspired by the Fall of Cybertron video game (they have this in common with competitors Planet X); secondly, each of their Dinos comes with a “companion” figure, who is much smaller, and can ride the larger partner in Dinosaur mode or turn into an axe-like melee weapon. Obviously, being a fan of the Arms Micron & Targetmaster gimmicks of Takara & Hasbro’s Transformers toys, the “Micron” partner was a big draw for me. Columpio (the larger partner) is based on the Dinobot Sludge, blending his original appearance from the Generation 1 toyline with the more modern take on the character in the Fall of Cybertron video game.
Aside from the lack of his (trademarked) Autobrand on his forehead, Columpio certainly looks the part. The gold structures on his back homage the original Sludge of Generation 1 toy and cartoon fame, but they can be twisted around to form a seat for Drepan, the smaller partner, to provide a sort of Dinosaur-cavalry mode.
Sludge was supposed to be a Brontosaurus in the original cartoon, but for some reason he had a mouth full of geometric fangs, so Fansproject have cleverly labelled Columpio’s alternate mode as a Tanystropheus in his instructions: a long-necked fang-mouthed piscivorous dinosaur that used its long neck to get at fish underwater, like a giant heron.
Drepan is a nice little figure, with arcticulated hips, shoulders knees and elbows, a turning head and his own armaments; it would have been better if he could wield his shield on either arm, but the arrangement of pegs is determined by his transformation. In some ways he resembles the Diaclone pilot with which the first use of G1 Sludge’s mold was boxed — the placement of the red parts on the chest are very similar, whilst the sculpted detail of the chest is similar to Columpio/Sludge himself, albeit with the red & silver pieces reversed. His axe handle doesn’t fold away terribly well in robot mode, giving him a long “tail”.
It’s in this mode that I can appreciate how much the name Drepan sounds like “Trepan” —
noun: trepan; plural noun: trepans :
1. a trephine (hole saw) used by surgeons for perforating the skull.
2. a borer for sinking shafts.
verb: to trepan
1. to perforate a person’s skull (with, for example,) a trepan.
Those blade/spike things look like they could pierce a skull. I doubt very much that this would be a measured or surgical process.
Comparing Trepan to an analogous figure, like a Takara Arms Micron is elucidating:
Drepan stands nearly twice as tall as the Arms Micron, and has many more points of articulation. However, he costs a lot more money. If that isn’t an apposite metaphor for the whole third-party toy industry, then I don’t know what is.
Columpio’s Robot Mode & Accessories
Columpio folds right out in robot mode, and manages to look even bigger than in dinosaur mode. He’s satisfyingly solid, and his slightly-odd looking feet stand surprisingly well on his toe-tips and heels. He has an interesting aesthetic blend of G1 comic sludge and Fall of Cybertron Sludge.
From the side, we can see that Columpio has as slight back-pack made up of his dinosaur mode’s head, neck and belly. The belly folds quite nicely into “wings” that aren’t nearly as prominent as on the G1 dinobots. (A good thing, IMHO.)
Columpio’s robot mode is a lot more old-school that his dinosaur mode. He very much has the original Sludge’s torso with the squarish central section that house the Diaclone toy’s pilot. He also has vestigial wings made up of the more dome-like sections of his dinosaur-mode torso, as did the original Sludge, although they are much less prominent and now include storage points for his weapons. On the subject of his weapons, here they are:
The sword has some amazing sculpted detailing; it has a leaf-shaped blade that puts me in mind of the Roman gladius type of sword but with a number of geometric fullers/channels set into the blade. It’s very Tron. I took several photos, but none of them do it justice. It’s made of translucent orange-red plastic, but it’s somehow also highly reflective as well as translucent; perhaps some sort of varnish or glaze has been applied? Anyway, it looks great.
Both weapons can be stowed away under Columpio’s “wings” – the structure on his back made of dinosaur-mode kibble.
Equipping the weapons onto Columpio is easy enough, you just close his articulated hands and slot them in; herein lies one of my few problems with this figure. There’s so much bulk on the hilt of his sword that it fits much better in his hand face-on than edge-on. He can wield it like a carpet-beater more easily than a sword.
Columpio is slightly larger than the largest figures in the FOC line, but doesn’t look out-of-place by virtue of being so big. Also, his accessories are mountable via 5mm posts, which means that FOC figures can wield his accessories and he can wield theirs. Drepan is the exception: his dino-head pommel will mean that most FOC figures won’t be able to fit him in their tubular hands.
So, the bottom line is that Columpio would make a great stand-in for Sludge in a FOC-themed display. Indeed, my plan for the figure is to shore-up the severely-outnumbered Autobots on my FOC shelf (I really like the FOC ‘cons). Players of the game will probably remember that Sludge wasn’t a playable character, and his parts weren’t available to build custom bots with in the multiplayer mode. However, he was in the game briefly, even though he wasn’t looking his best.