gamer culture

Discover Flame Toys’ New High-End Transformers Figures

by Matt Miller on May 16, 2018 at 02:00 PM

Transformers fans have had lots to enjoy in recent years. In the video game sphere, 2015’s Transformers: Devastation offered an injection of nostalgia mixed with Platinum Games’ eye for high-octane action, and the Forged to Fight mobile game continues to expand with new characters on a regular basis. A new web-based animation series recalls some of the original generation of characters. An ongoing line of Hasbro figures explores a ton of different characters. And a compelling universe of storytelling has unfolded in the IDW comics (wrapping up later this year), in which old characters are given new life through a lengthy continuity and complex themes. 

The Flame Toys figure line looks to the IDW comic characters for inspiration

It’s that last universe of IDW comics that has served as inspiration for a new limited line of figures, different from what fans have come to expect in the past. Hong Kong-based Flame Toys recently introduced their Kuro Kara Kuri line of figures, which are built as high-end collectibles modeled after select characters from the comics. The initial figures from the line should be familiar to comic readers, but at least the first two figures may be new to fans of the classic cartoon or toys. “We chose the characters based on their background stories,” a Flame Toys representative shared. “For example, Drift’s name before is Deadlock. When his friend Wing dies, Deadlock becomes Drift, a good guy. As Drift is rich in story, it made us very interested in making it. Moreover, the rich background story also gave us increased design flexibility.”

The Drift figure comes with a stand, but is also poseable standing free

The figures are remarkably articulated, but they don’t transform. That might be a turn-off for some collectors, but other features balance out the absence of that fundamental feature. The figures boast remarkably robust poseability and articulation. Along with the included stand, the Drift figure can be set up for dramatic action shots, with swords in mid-swing and arms outspread. Alternately, the included wire-supported cape can replicate stoic standing poses culled from the comics. And the figure includes fun movement gimmicks, like a sword crossguard that changes the color of its embedded gem when the hilt is extended, and articulated ankles with multiple moving pieces, lending the sense of a real robot in motion as the figure is placed in different positions. Multiple light-up features help the figure shine even in low-light display spaces, and accentuate the immaculate paint and sculpting work. These are collectibles meant to be displayed like a statue, but adjusted regularly with new included face plates, hands, weapons, and poses, like an action figure. There’s over 50 points of articulation on this guy, so there are a lot of options.  

The included cloak features hidden wires that can lend the sense of the blowing wind, just like in a memorable scene from the comic

“Our design emphasizes robot joint mechanism and outlook modernization,” Flame Toys told me via email. “We want customers to play with and enjoy these figures as a way to celebrate the background story of the character. According to our complicated joint design, virtually any pose is possible, easily. For Drift, we have taken the background story as a major reference point for the design.”

Drift features several neat light and movement gimmicks that lend life to the look of the display

Flame Toys has already released the Drift figure in the United States via distributor Bluefin, but the 8-inch die-cast and plastic figure doesn’t come cheap at $299.99. The upcoming Tarn figure features similar light-up features and poseability, and pre-orders (expected this fall) for him are running $399.99. And while they haven’t yet been announced for North American release, early pictures have emerged from Asian fan conventions showing off other fan favorite characters like Star Saber and Optimus Prime, so we’ll have to wait and see if they make their way stateside. 

Tarn is a surprisingly nuanced and compelling villain drawn from the IDW comics