The first of my reviews falling under the category 'stuff I bought from Auto Assembly' is Scoria, the 3rd Party release of Masterpiece-scale Slag.
Slag was at the top of my AA Wish List and, only being available from Kapow Toys in the UK, was probably only going to be on sale on one particular stall. Of course Kapow had the biggest crowd around it, so at first I was a sad little boy as it didn't appear that there were any available. But, no! I was wrong! As on a second pass on the stall I spotted him and was much relieved.
The relief was short-lived.
I'd read a number of complaints online about Slag, specifically that his shoulders were loose. This wasn't the case on my mine, much to my relief. True, the joints weren't super-tight, but they held their position fine. I had a bit of a fiddle with the big chap during the day, and kind of transformed him between robot and triceratops. I had a problem with his back and getting it to sit right. The instructions weren't especially helpful, so it wasn't until I got home and was able to check reviews on YouTube that the problems became clear.
Two of the joints on his back kibble refused to move. I wasn't especially keen to force things, it being a rather expensive toy and all, so went back to Kapow the following day for some advice.
Upon arriving home again, and following the advice given, I stepped up the aggression. The first result was that his 'wing' snapped off at the joint and it became apparent that someone in the factory had gone a little overboard with the glue. The other problem joint I couldn't get to do anything, even with all my superhuman strength so, figuring I had nothing to lose, I whacked it with a hammer.
Shockingly, this actually solved the problem (without breaking the toy!), which was again due to excess glue. Not that this helped much considering I'd already broken Slag elsewhere.
But putting this, admittedly rather large, issue aside, what did I think of the rest of the toy?
He's great. Really great. Not Quakewave fantastic, but still very good. Grimlock was good, but Slag is better. The addition of die cast metal parts adds a good heft to it and makes it seem much more impressive. The transformation is like the G1 version, but improved, making it familiar but better. Takara may have abandoned them, but individually articulated fingers live on in 3rd Party products and Slag's are very tight, enabling any finger-poses you can think of. The metal in his feet make his hips sag a little when you lift him, but this isn't a problem when he's stood on terra firma.
Size-wise, he's about a head taller than Grimlock, making him more in scale with MP-10, but the supplied platform shoes (which look a lot better than you'd think) bring the Dinobot leader up to the same height as Slag. Note that I say 'height'; even with the shoes (which easily slide onto Grimlock's feet and then meld in with the rest of the figure) Grimlock is still noticeably smaller in bulk. It's liveable, for the moment, but how well he will blend with the Fans Toys figures overall depends on the sizing of the others. If there's a size variance between the FT dinos, it won't be a problem. Should they all be Slag-size then Grimlock will definitely be the odd robot out.
There has been much talk about the sword and how holding it, as intended, in Slag's hand means that the hand has to bend forward at the wrist. This looks odd, of that have no doubt, however rotate the sword 90 degrees and this issue is solved and still remains secure in his hand.
There's less of a scale problem when comparing dino-Slag to dino-Grimlock, which is probably how most of this toys are going to be displayed. The scale isn't quite right, but then there's the 30 year old problem of the giant cassette player.
Yes, triceratops-Slag looks a little like a potato, but that's not really the fault of Fans Toys - it's pretty much how his 80s counterpart looked. Live with it. Otherwise, he's a great beefy-looking dinosaur.
Scoria features a large amount of chrome and there's already some wear on the figure, despite the limited amount of handling he's had. It's not a disaster but I would advise being careful.
So on the one hand you have a great looking toy and on the other you have some dodgy quality control. Coming into this release, after the huge success of Quakewave, the reputation of Fans Toys couldn't be any higher. I'm sure a load of people pre-ordered Scoria expecting the same level of perfection and were devastated by that they received. If their not-Swoop isn't up to standard then this will definitely be the end for the company, especially with another Masterpiece-scale set of Dinobots being produced by another company.
Do you buy Scoria or not? I could not advise either way. It's a definite risk buying one, but if you get a good one then it's fantastic! And if not... Well, let's just hope for the best...