TRANSFORMERS MOVIE COLLECTIBLES REVIEW
Hey, we haven't done one of these in a while! Welcome to an ASM review, the first in some time. For our premiere update for 2008 (and probably our last until Toy Fair unless another neat collectible happens to cross our path between now and then), we're covering two new releases from PopBox Collectibles, both licensed items from the 2007 Transformers movie.
ALL SPARK CUBE
We'll start with the main event: the brand-new All Spark Cube scaled replica. We haven't seen too much merchandise based on the main McGuffin of the movie (though a much smaller, roughly figure-scaled plastic version will be included with a few upcoming TakaraTomy releases), so it's nice to see something this big and detailed, even if it's not quite the size of the movie prop.
The cube comes in nicely-designed, reusable display packaging. The box isn't the sturdiest -- both cardboard and plastic elements are fairly thin and won't hold up to a lot of punishment -- but it does a good job of showing off the contents. Inside, the cube is "suspended" at an angle in a sturdy plastic sleeve, with a photographic backdrop of the Earth behind it.
Two of the side faces and the top flap of the box have large windows, letting enough light in to illuminate the cube well. The two remaining sides feature a photo of the cube hovering above the planet, one with the usual logos and legal lines, and the other a text description:
It's not quite perfect English, and I'm a little surprised that Hasbro and/or Paramounts' licensing departments didn't make changes, but it gets the job done. Also, "tenacious nemesis" is my new favorite phrase for the year.
Freed from its packaging, the All Spark cube is made of metal, but surprisingly light. It almost feels hollow, but I don't see any obvious seams, so I suspect it's just made from a really lightweight aluminum. It's also got pretty sharp edges and corners, so don't go tossing this thing at anybody.
The included clear plastic stand is a nice extra, but I get the feeling that it wasn't custom-designed to work with the cube. Intended to support the cube on one corner, the stand is square with a circular hole in the center, but a triangular one would have worked much better. With the shape as it is, you can easily balance the cube at the right angle, but it's not the most stable fit and can topple pretty easily. Fortunately, a fall isn't likely to do any damage to the cube, though I make no promises for whatever it lands on.
I'm not quite sure what the scale is, exactly -- the manufacturer's website says that it's 1:4, but the packaging states it as 1:3 scale. Either way, it measures about 7cm (2 ¾ in) per side, making it a very pretty display piece, but out of scale with both the real world and pretty much any Transformers toy you can name. I suppose if you can find a sufficiently tiny Bumblebee figurine, it might be about the right scale for its pre-shrunken state.
Issues of scale aside, the cube makes for a great prop replica. The computer-etched inscriptions and markings are precisely detailed and sharply highlighted with black paint. The weathered silver and rusty reddish-brown finish does a great job of making it look ancient, alien, and straight out of the movie. I'm really impressed with how nicely the cube came out, and I consider it to be an excellent and well-made collectible overall.
Recommended, with the warning that it may be a little smaller than you expect for the retail price.
NDS LITE CARRYING CASE
PopBox also makes a number of Transformers-themed videogame and personal electronics accessories, including two different cases designed for the Nintendo DS Lite. We were actually expecting to review the deluxe "transforming" $24.95 version, but there was a mix-up and we ended up with the basic $9.95 one instead. You can see PopBox's website (linked at top) for the other cases and merchandise they carry.
This version of the case is available in three themes: Optimus Prime, Bumblebee (or Bumble Bee as the packaging has it) and Megatron. We got the Bumblebee case, because we love Bumblebee.
The packaging is pretty sturdy and nonspecific enough (the NDS Lite identification is a sticker) that it's probably used for most or all of the cases PopBox produces. It doesn't have any particularly noteworthy text, alas.
The case itself is pretty nice. It is, of course, bright yellow in keeping with the Bumblebee theme. The exterior is fairly hard and damage-resistant, with printed Bumblebee-themed graphics on the front and a recessed "TF" logo molded into the back. The case opens via a black metal zipper. The inside is lined with black fabric, with elastic straps to hold the bottom corners of the DS Lite and a mesh bag in the top half to hold game cartridges, earphones, etc. A wrist strap is also included.
To see more pictures of both the All Spark Cube and the NDS Lite Carrying Case, head to the gallery!.
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