Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Iron Factory IF EX-03S Scouts & Sniper Review

I didn't even know about this set until TFCon 2015, amazing given that a) the prototypes surfaced close to a year ago and b) I am drawn to Iron Factory product like a Davey is drawn to rum.

Following on from a damn good Overlord and their Ultra Magnus meisterwerk City Commander (review to drop), the dark lord wizards of tiny revisit a couple of existing toolings to bring us the IF EX-03S five pack. Soundwave, Ravage, Buzzsaw, Lazerbeak and a rather outnumbered Perceptor are presented for your Legends collecting needs.

'Ultra Magnus, a cursory evaluation of Decepticon capability indicates whoever stuck me in that box needs a slap'

Utilising the mold originally released as Sonictech (their riff on Blaster/Twincast) works far better than I imagined for Perceptor. The boxy look suits him fine and he has been given not just a unique chest but two heads should you wish to display him IDW sniper style.

Which I do, ta

His shoulder cannon is attached by a piece that plugs into the figure's back. This is also designed to accommodate a separate cannon that allows for a more G1 configuration. A word of caution. The shoulder cannon ball joints are tight. Be careful when swapping them out the first few times.

One criticism I have with this figure is that when fitting the weapon in his hand, due to two painted surfaces rubbing against one another, paint chipping is unavoidable. Should've left the gun handle or inner hand unpainted. Irritating.

He looks right at home with his mold mate and the changes made do the business defining him as his own character. Round this off with his sniperceptor rifle and a perfect colour scene and what was initially met with a 'Well, meh' swiftly changed to a 'Hell yeah'. Job done.

Soundwave then. Whether blindly loyal, self serving opportunist or jilted hippy commune founder, he's a big deal. The Decepticon Communications Officer, like Perceptor, gets his own (beautiful) head and chest as well as iconic shoulder cannon. And just like Perceptor the retooled parts, while minimal, do a spot on job of standing him apart. This is a good Soundwave. Just look at those glorious colours!

Articulation on this pair is identical and well up to scratch for Legends sized figures.  Ball joints, swivels and hinges are all where they need to be. And in keeping with Iron Factory's play pattern, both are dotted with 5mm ports to really amp up their armaments. The set comes with the arsenal you see below and more, all you're really missing is a little canoe and some budgie smugglers and you could totally recreate that beach scene in Commando.


Transformation is quick and simple though this is where using the Sonictech mold causes problems. It's just not a very good alt mode. It's IDW Spotlight Blaster accurate, but remains a box with legs on top. I can imagine Soundwave blasting out er.. soundwaves from those speakers, but Perceptor? Maybe A Brief History Of Time as he scorches through the battlefield. It helps that both characters have had recent, mobile depictions that deviate from their original (but powerfully iconic) alt modes but still.. poor. Not the shining light of the package.

Move along please, nothing to see here..

A little imagination though, goes a long way..

As seen above, Iron Factory releases often come with their own private armoury. These gun packs are from the City Commander release and separate into two shotguns, missile pods, a hand gun and a blast shield, just the ticket for beefing up these little buggers.

These gun packs are what you get with the IF EX-03S set. The shields here though, they're a little more involved..

.. and this is legit amazing. With ball jointed legs, a hinged neck and ball jointed head, you get a far more expressive birdbot than first thoughts might suggest. These two properly spark that 'YES! Here is why I am in this game' feeling I love about the hobby. Lazerbeak and Buzzsaw shields should not work but do so well.

 The rest of the guns double up as a flight stand. Yep. Wonderfully daft stuff.

Ah, and who might that be skulking in the background? Why, it's everyone's favourite espionage specialist and if you were reading Marvel, one of the very first Transformers to be introduced to our hungry little minds.

A four treaded Cybertronian anti aircraft artillery (..wut?! I miss cassettes too, but don't be fooled into thinking these can't interact with the big man) transforms into an adorably buff feline. Ravage looks fantastic, with some great options for poses and a sculpt full of character.


Ah yes, something about interaction. ASSEMBLE!


Brilliant, ludicrous or just plain stupid, these are but a few of the options available to you in terms of using the minions/weapon packs to kit out their boss. This is one of my favourite aspects of the Iron Factory line. Pimping your figures with modular weaponry is an utter joy. Inadvertently creating a griffon combiner made my day.

'5 minutes. I leave you alone for 5 minutes'

In closing, this has been an absolute blast to review from start to finish. You get play and display options through the roof, some inspired takes on classic characters (the minions are superb) and in terms of bang for buck, a metric ton of bitesized fun that you're not going to get bored with anytime soon. The alt modes on the main figures are pretty rubbish but that gets eclipsed by everything else they have going for them. The Iron Factory line as a whole is hard to stop fiddling about with and this release might just top them all in that respect. Not bad for a bunch of retools and transformable shields. Highly recommended for Legends collectors or to anyone who just wants a great desktop toy.


Buy 'em here Iron Factory IF-EX03S 5 pack