3rd Party Transformers are a lot like boxes of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get. Sometimes you get a Quake Wave, a figure so good it puts Hasbro/Takara to shame. Sometimes you get a Grand Patriot, which, well, is a big pile of poo. Even a company with a good reputation can be a risk as quality varies from product to product. Take, for example, Fans Toys' follow up to Quake Wave, Scoria, which suffered a number of problems.
This risk factor is the reason why I refuse to pre-order 3rd Party products. Sure, there's normally a discount if you order early, but the quality issue and consistent pushing back of release dates isn't worth it, in my opinion. Even online reviews of 'test shots' aren't a reassurance as you never know for sure if minor niggles are going to be corrected (or become worse!) in the final product. It's much safer to wait and see what the final reviews are before committing money - especially with the amount of money these products costs.
X-Transbots hasn't got the greatest reputation in the world. While I don't have a lot of their products, the common complaints online seem to be plastic quality and general quality control. More than one online retailer is now refusing to carry their products because of this.
But I ordered Hoss anyway. And it's really not that bad.
Hoss is the 3rd release from X-Transbots based around, essentially, the exact same mould. Each release has had a new head and a new paintjob to create a new character - as is common in the transforming robot world. The other two didn't really appeal, mostly because I can see Hasbro/Takara making 'proper' versions eventually, however due to the complicated rights of Go-Bots characters, I went ahead and bought Hoss.
I'm happy (shocked?) to say that Hoss is almost perfect. The plastic is perfectly ok. It's not brilliant, but it's as good as the stuff Hasbro uses. The joints, overall, are good and tight and Hoss poses well. There's a looseness to his left arm, on mine, but a dab of nail varnish, or similar, should fix this and it's nothing I haven't had to do on an official figure from time to time. The paint is simple but well applied with no sloppy bits (that's a technical term).
I did have a problem with the chrome parts. These all come separate to the main figure and thus you have to stick them in their holes yourself....which was not an easy job. I suspect that when the figure was designed the person in charge of deciding the hole size either wasn't told the chrome parts would be chromed, or didn't realise that a shiny silver coating would result in the parts didn't a tiny bit thicker (you know, like when people design swimming pools and forget to include the weight of the water in the calculations). As a result, they don't fit straight out of the box and you'll have to spend a few minutes scraping off the chrome in the right areas. Once cleaned up, however, they go in fine and no one will ever know.
A bigger complaint is that in vehicle mode there is a weakness in the middle, meaning that it's relatively easy for it to bend. This is a design flaw, rather than a quality control flaw, as no matter how tight the joint was, it would very likely still bend as there's nothing to secure it in place.
My final issue is, again, a design flaw rather than a quality one. From the front Hoss looks great, however from the side it looks a bit rubbish. The same is true from the back, with the giant cab sticking out. It is impressive that the figure stands very easily with no toppling issues from that cab.
Hoss is around the same size as the Masterpiece Transformer cars, and also scales well with Unique Toys' Salmoore figure. X-Transbot have also released a Turbo-inspired figure which, if they have any sense, is also around the same size (though he's a remould of their Wheelie figure and Wheelie is a lot smaller than Hoss so probably not).
Hoss is a great representation of the GoBots character Road Ranger. Not perfect, granted, since in the original Road Ranger's head came out of the lorry cab rather than peering out from under the bottom. But I can live with this and I think it's fine. He does come with guns, which I haven't shown here since in the 'toon the GoBots fired from their fists and thus I won't be using them. The quality seems to be a step up from previous X-Transbots releases and therefore I can assure all GoBots fans out there (I'm sure there are some!) that Hoss is a (relatively) safe buy!