Wednesday 22 August 2018

Toybox REVIEW: 52TOYS Megabox MB-01 Alien

Release Date: May 2018
RRP: $29.99

52TOYS' Beast Box line has been going from strength to strength with its own fantastic cube animal designs, but now that the line has gained some traction it's also turning its attention toward some more iconic figures in popular culture. Enter Megabox – an offshoot of the Beast Box line which so far has revealed to be covering the likes of the Alien franchise, Predator and even Getter Robo. The first release in this line is known as both a Xenomorph or the Big Chap, but to most of the world is probably just best known as the Alien. Based on the design from the first Alien film, the Megabox MB-01 Alien kicks off 52TOYS foray into licensed designs in a big way.

The Megabox Alien Xenomorph comes packaged in some slick black packaging that's significantly bigger than any Beast Box release that's come before it, featuring the Alien movie logo across the bottom and big CGI renders of the toy in both modes on the side. Poking through the other side is a transparent window revealing the figure itself, which unlike the Beast Box figures is packaged in "beast" mode rather than as a cube. The back of the box is relatively light on flourish but nicely designed nonetheless, with one section breaking down the box contents while another lists all the 52TOYS technical information in Chinese. Open the box up and you'll find the figure and its accessories (which were completely hidden by the outer packaging) laid out on a single plastic tray.

The instructions are printed out on a two-sided fold-out pamphlet which documents the transformation from Xenomorph to cube mode on one side, and then the reverse on the other. Possibly in an attempt to keep costs down the pamphlet sadly doesn't have any nice artwork like the Beast Box releases do, with the front cover instead mostly matte black with the Alien logos and various other bits of licensing information. The instructions also differ in that because there's considerably more steps when it comes to a design like this, they sadly lack the English text blurb next to them to explains exactly what you're looking at. In their place are arrowed-off sections that try to illustrate what you're doing with each part, but they can be a little bit hard to follow at times because of the printing. Green highlights over black images definitely fits the aesthetic, but it doesn't really win any points for legibility.

"In space, no one can hear you scream."

Straight out of the box and the Megabox Alien looks utterly fantastic. H.R. Geiger's Xenomorph design is one of the most iconic aliens in pop culture to begin with, but combined with 52TOYS superdeformed robot aesthetic it's very easy to fall in love with it all over again. All the important bits of detailing from the onscreen design have been added for the sake of accuracy, but on top of that you also have tons of unique robotic detailing covering the body that just adds to toy's "cute but deadly" charm. The jet black body means there's no paint detailing to speak of here (other than the silver teeth that is), but in its place you have that translucent plastic dome with a moulded skull poking out underneath - something that never stops being haunting no matter how much you try to cutesify it. The opening jaw even has a spring-loaded tongue that immediately shoots out when you open it! The handheld size is also a perfect fit - making it small enough to distinguish it from both larger, high-end figures and smaller ones that make similar changes to the aesthetic but don't have the size to play with the same level of detailing.

The more complex design also allows for far more poseability than has ever been seen in a Beast Box figure. The Megabox Alien sports a ball-jointed head, hinged jaw, hinged neck, ball-jointed shoulders (with separately moving shoulder pads), hinged elbows, ball-jointed hands, hinged finger sections (the central four being one section and the outer two separate), double ball-jointed hips, hinged knees, ball-jointed feet, hinged heels, hinged toes and finally a hinged tail broken down into five separate segments. But while that's a pretty incredible level of articulation that's well deserving of praise, there are a few design snags here and there that prevent you from getting everything out of it. Despite the raised shoulder sections being free moving no matter what position you put them in they'll always restrict the arms somewhat, and as they can't move upwards that much from sitting parallel with the torso they'll often get in the way of the legs as well. That aside though - elements like the segmented tail and moveable fingers really feel like the toy spoiling you, even though they're mostly there as essential parts to the transformation scheme. Given that the Megabox Alien isn't that much more expensive than the Beast Box line, you'll definitely be impressed at how much this toy has to offer in terms of movement.

Another big thing that separates the Megabox line from its forefather is the inclusion of accessories! In addition to the Xenomorph figure itself this release also comes with an opening egg as well as both Face Hugger and Chest Burster aliens. The Face Hugger is nicely sized, features an articulated tail and stylised in the same "Beast Box tech" aesthetic as the Xenomorph, but the tiny Chest Burster is accurate to their onscreen appearance. For something so small and made of soft plastic, it's pretty impressively detailed even if most of that is lost in that desert tan colouring. When not on display, the Chest Burster can also be stored inside of the egg as an extra precaution against losing such a tiny but valuable accessory.

The transformation to cube mode is where things begin to fall down a little bit. All the Beast Box releases have been blessed with an elegant simplicity to their transformations - ones where nothing is ever overly complicated but there's a nice fluidity to it all to make it seem that much more impressive. However the Megabox Alien is a more detailed and shapely figure, and this in turn results in a more complex transformation scheme. Calling it hard is probably stretching things a little bit, but it's fiddly to say the least and the often vague instructions don't really help matters either. There's a much greater emphasis on having everything peg into place perfectly here, and the slightest misstep can result in losing that all-important cube shape. While you can figure out a Beast Box figure pretty easily from just one transformation back and forth, this is one where you may find yourself studying the instructions a little bit closer.

However after the possible frustration of getting everything to fit together, what you're left with is a pretty sweet cube mode. The entirely black body makes it seem pretty plain with a lot of the moulded detail lost, but the added beige from the Facehugger and Alien Egg really add a much needed bit of colour to them. In fact incorporating them into the cube in general was a stroke of genius, with the Facehugger adding the perfect focal point.

A final inclusion with this release is the same "BOX CHARGER" storage case that is included with any of the larger Beast Box figures, only this time it's in a rather nice neon green rather than the usual clear variety! Though the cases themselves are still a fairly throwaway accessory, the green definitely fits the Alien aesthetic to a tee and makes a nice visual distinction from the standard Beast Box ones. Providing you're able to get the cube mode to fit together as it should the Xenomorph will fit nice and snugly inside, and as the mould is exactly the same as the other Box Chargers it can be connected with other cases both vertically and horizontally to build a nice little display wall.

As the first Beast Box toy of a licensed property I was extremely excited for the Mega Box MB-01 Alien, however while it's still a great toy in its own right I can't help but feel that it doesn't quite match up to 52TOYS own in-house designs. The cute-but-deadly Beast Box stylisation of the iconic Xenomorph design is fantastic for sure, and it is genuinely impressive how they've managed to cram a design like that down into a cube that's still somehow the same size as their other releases. But a more complex design means far more fiddly articulation, and a transformation scheme that ultimately lacks the seamless elegance the mainline Beast Box toys have. But these issues aside, this is still an incredibly fun toy that lives up to the reputation the line has quickly established for itself. Alien fans looking for a Xenomorph that's a little bit different won't want to miss out on this.


Fisitron said...

You made the same mistake I did at first, the Xenomorph head extends backwards to elongate it and be more accurate, that’s why there’s a seam in the head

Alex said...

The instructions really aren't very clear on that are they? I just went and had a glance at them again and it only really makes reference to it at the beginning of the transformation and the step just looks like "pull it out then push it back in again". Should have really realised it was meant to be like that in alien mode, but the lack of any decent pictures of the toy on the box itself didn't really help matters.