Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Toybox REVIEW: 52TOYS Beast Box BB-04 Moma & BB-04EL Elephinx

Release Date: January 2018
RRP: 2678 yen/$21.99

Last year a little Chinese company by the name of 52TOYS rocked the world of transforming robot toys with their Beast Box line - affordable robot animals which all share an alternate cute mode. The line kicked off with the cute but deadly BB-01 DIO (followed closely by the remoulded BB-02 Ghost Dog as well as Police and Clear repaints), with BB-02 JOJO (along with flame and clear variants) coming some months later. That might not sound like many releases, but the line certainly made up for it in charm and ingenuity. Now they're kicking 2018 off with the third mould from their mechanical menagerie - BB-04 Moma! The mighty mammoth is currently available in three different variants - standard, clear and BB-04EL Elephinx.

BB-04 comes boxed in the same designer style cuboid packaging as the BB-03 JOJO releases, with Moma using the standard matte black colouring and Elephinx adopting a more fitting gold and blue colourscheme. Both however use the same impressive x-ray style image of the base design, together with their names, designation and Beast Box logo. The packaging also features some curious symbols on one side, which perhaps relates to what animals have been released so far as well as the ones yet to come. The toy itself is visible through the clear window section at the top of the box, and inside you'll find it snuggly fitted into a clear clamshell tray.

The instructions are printed on a nicely laid out two-side pamphlet, with one side outlining the transformation from cube to beast mode and the other covering vice versa. The instructions come off especially well when compared to Transformers ones, not just because they highlight key areas in the steps with orange highlights but also because each step comes with a written explanation of what to do. Many a time have I sat with a particularly complicated Transformer and wondered what the hell I'm supposed to do, but at least here you have an additional piece of guidance to help you along. The instruction sheet also features some really nice art of Moma, along with three smaller pieces of art showing off what variants are currently on offer.

Once again the figure's also come with a beautifully printed tech specs card, only this time each one has its own unique art and bio! After Flame JOJO variant just came with a recoloured image this comes as a really nice surprise, as well as adding an extra incentive to buy both versions rather than picking between them. Unfortunately the English on the bios isn't exactly perfect, leading to some rather amusing moments on Engrish the further you read into them. Still, it's the effort that counts and as far as presentation goes these tech spec cards really go out of their way to impress.

Also included in the package is a clear plastic "BOX CHARGER" storage box, which can safely accommodate one Beast Box figure of Moma or JOJO's size (D10 fits too but will rattle around in there). If you have multiple boxes, they can connect both side-to-side and top-to-bottom for an neat, economic way to store your Beast Boxes. It's a nice little extra, but as someone who's more likely to display these in animal mode rather than stacked up in cases they don't really hold much value to me. Personally I'd rather see 52TOYS sell these as a separate package to those who want them and keep the cost of the figures themselves down, but then I also don't know how economically viable that is.

In cube mode the BB-04 mould is roughly the same size as JOJO, but arguably does a far better job of tucking away all those key robot parts so you can't immediately tell what it transforms into. The only real giveaway are the tusks, not only due to their size and shape but also how they're a different colour to the rest of the body regardless of which model it is. On face value it's probably the most impressive cube 52TOYS have put out yet - combining D10's careful part placement with the sheer size of JOJO. Both versions of the cube also have their own visual appeal too - Moma's bright colourscheme sits well with the plasticky future-tech look of the other Beast Boxes, while Elephinx's more co-ordinated colours make it the perfect (if definitely out of place) Egyptian relic. All the hieroglyphics adorning the sides just make it even better.

The transformation is perhaps the most satisfying 52TOYS have pulled off with this line yet, featuring lots of cool little steps that show off how well the designers have packed a robot mammoth into an ordinary looking cube. There's a particularly satisfying moment early on in the transformation where you pull on the front and back of the figure in tandem, extending out the spine to lock in the robot's silhouette. The feet can be a little fiddly to pull off the first time around, but all the pieces that require force will simply pop off their joints rather than break outright. You'll likely need the instructions the first time around just to get a general feel of the figure, but after that shouldn't have any problems going back and forth between modes without guidance. Once the transformation from cube mode has been completed, Moma is ready to stomp into action!

In beast mode Moma looks pretty darn spectacular, with that careful colour placement doing a fantastic job of highlighting all the different pieces and detailing on the frame. The grill-like sections on the trunk and inner ears are an excellent touch, as are the giant yellow tusks which bring your attention firmly to the robot's face and its giant orange eyes. In some respects Moma feels like the most universal of the Beast Box releases yet, not just evoking Transformers beasts but also zoids and of course ZyuMammoth/the Mastodon zord from Zyuranger/Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Like the previous releases Moma also has its numbering tampographed onto it, in this case in the form of a discreet "M04" printed onto each tusk.

Unfortunately due to the mammoth's shape and design the articulation is a little more limited than what's been seen on previous releases. The figure sports an interesting mix of articulation, as the front legs utilise balljoints while the back ones stick and with a mix of swivels and hinges. Meanwhile the head and ears are attached via pin joints, the trunk features two hinged sections and the tusks feature an outwards swivel (as well as being able to rotate simply by the way they're attached). That sounds like a lot, but what you can actually do with it is pretty limited. The front legs only stretch outwards a bit before they end up popping off the ball joints, and with no side to side motion on the head you're pretty much stuck having the figure look forwards at all times. Admittedly you can't really do that much more with a mammoth than they've already done here, but that little bit of head movement would have gone a long way.

But if you're looking for something a little more "historic" to add to your Beast Box collection, look no further than Moma's main variant version - BB-04EL Elephinx! Elephinx adopts a uniform gold and blue colourscheme based on what you commonly see with Egyptian headdresses, together with a number of Egyptian markings on the tusks, Ankh symbols where they connect to the body and the Eye of Horus on it's back. The gold colouring plastic might not be to everyones tastes as its the shame shade as Bandai's trademark "puke gold" they often use for their model kits, but it seems sturdy enough and hopefully shouldn't suffer from any GPS in the future. It also goes really well with the dark blue used for the other body parts, creating a striking figure that feels suitably distinct from the standard Moma even if the mould is identical.

Don't let the new name and slightly different designation fool you though - outside of the deco this is just the same figure all over again. Part of me longs for these repaints to have some sort of unique part to them just like Ghost Dog did, but coming up with new moulds can't be the easiest/cheapest thing I can understand why they're just sticking with recolours. So essentially since its the same figure all over again, the general presentation and articulation are exactly the same. It's also worth noting that there's a translucent version of Moma on the market as well, which (if the D10 variant was anything to go by) probably isn't quite as sharp when it comes to plastic quality/tolerances but still manages to get the job done nicely. Which you think is the better variant is going to entirely be down to preference - Elephinx's feels much more co-ordinated, but that sickly gold colour just isn't a match for Moma's fiery palette.

The Beast Box line has quickly become one of my favourite new toy lines in recent years, and BB-04 Moma/BB-04EL Elephinx are another pair of winners unlikely to disappoint. While this third mould isn't quite as impressive as the previous offerings thanks to its more limited articulation and slightly higher price point (when compared to BB-01 at least), but its another utterly charming figure that's tonnes of fun to mess about with and goes great with the previous releases. The Beast Box line is about to get even bigger with more of its own creations as well as surprise collaborations with the Alien and Getter Robo franchises, and I for one can't wait to see what they do next.

1 comment:

baratacom said...

Nice review, I'm looking forward to receiving my MOMA, which thanks to Brazil's speedy postal service should happen at around June!

On a less sarcastic remark, ever since I first looked at it, MOMA seems like a big Ganbbaruger King Elephant homage to me, which is quite nice considering that Ganbaruger was a somewhat big part of my childhood (not that I ever watched it, I just happened to own couple toys from that show...possibly bootlegs, but decent quality bootlegs).