Review: MakeToys Striker Manus

When it comes to third party figures, some of the most common products you’ll find are toys of characters that Hasbro or Takara are very unlikely to make in the main lines, either due to obscurity or budget. Third party versions of major characters are fewer and far between, usually only based on specific designs like War Within Optimus or Stealth Bomber Megatron. Original designs are becoming more prominent in third parties, but usually only for characters who are also in higher demand (Dinobots, Combiners, etc.). A completely original figure of, say Optimus Prime is going to be harder to find, because there’s a substantial risk that no one will want to buy it… unless your toy is really damn good. Enter Striker Manus by MakeToys. 

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Robot Mode

That’s right, I’m starting with the robot mode for this guy. Striker Manus is a completely original take on Optimus Prime, aiming for a more Cybertronian appearance and homaging some features from the 2006 Classics figure. Some of the more unique design aspects include the abdominal wheels, axe-handle smokestacks, and heel wheels. It’s obviously an Optimus Prime with the head, colors, and torso, but Striker Manus succeeds in standing out from official Prime designs. He’s very much his own thing.

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Striker Manus is a tall glass of water, too. He’s an inch or two above most voyager class figures, giving him a pretty substantial, commanding height over classics-scaled figures. Aesthetically, though, Manus is a bit of an anomaly. His abundance of detail, futuristic design, and anime-esque proportions make him look rather alien among official classics-style figures. This is only a problem if you demand conformity in your figure aesthetics, which is not an issue I have. 

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What makes Striker Manus a real superstar of a figure is his articulation. He’s loaded with joints, all designed to make the figure look and pose as dynamic as possible: ball-jointed neck and shoulders; extra outward and inward shoulder hinges; hinged elbows; ab crunch; universal hips; double-hinged knees; wrist, waist, bicep, and thigh swivels; and multiple ankle joints for all sorts of tilt and movement. 

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All of these joints are tight and work great, though the cylinders on the sides of his waist can get in the way of outward hip movement (the front skirts can fold up). Thanks to his joint-loaded feet, Manus can hold just about any pose you put him in.

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Striker Manus’s primary weapon is an ion cannon formed from his vehicle mode wind vane, just like Classics Optimus Prime. I’m a little conflicted about this. It certainly looks better than Classics Prime’s gun, but I’m not a fan of the overall bulky design. The uniqueness of it does suit the figure, though. The sliding barrel, however, doesn’t lock in place when it’s extended, and mine tends to slide back in unless the barrel is facing down, which is a bummer.

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Striker’s secondary weapons are much more interesting and innovative: twin energon axes that form from his vehicle mode smokestacks. These are relatively well-hidden in both modes, and unlike the wind vane gun they don’t have to be removed during transformation. They’re a bit small for a typical energon axe, but the translucent orange looks great, and Striker Manus’s dynamic articulation means he can make good use of them.

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The twin axes also have the ability to combine together to form a double-ended blade weapon thing. It’s a lot less cool than just having him dual-wield the axes, but it’s a neat feature nonetheless. Both weapons have grooves that slide into similar molding in Striker’s hands for a solid grip, though the paint on the axes makes it a very tight connection. The finger joints, however, are tight enough for him to hold the axes without using the sliding connection.

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If there’s one thing that I feel like Striker Manus is missing, it’s a proper sword. His dynamic articulation makes the figure natural for sword poses, and thanks to Dr Wu’s Cavalier and a couple of the MakeToys Battle Tanker swords, I can confirm that Striker Manus looks pretty damn badass with swords.

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(Can you tell that I really enjoy posing this figure?)

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Vehicle Mode

I’ve saved Striker Manus’s vehicle mode for last, because it frankly isn’t that impressive aesthetically. I say aesthetically, because the truck mode itself is rock-solid and the transformation is smooth and intuitive. I wasn’t a fan of the look of this mode at first, but after having him in hand for a while, it’s grown on me. It’s definitely a futuristic/Cybertronian altmode, but it’s got a ton of detail and the design actually flows pretty well.

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Striker Manus also gets points for having one of the cleanest semi truck backs of any Optimus Prime design that I can remember. The compressed barrel of his rifle and the energon axes finish up the cap section, and his legs compact into a big blue wheeled rectangle very neatly. No trailer hitch, alas, though I’m sure MakeToys could find a way to attach one.

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In truck mode, Striker Manus still hits some aesthetic keys that make him resemble a Cybertronian form of Classics Optimus Prime, mostly with the shape of the cab and the wind vane on top. You can also see how well Striker Manus compresses his mass, going from a truck roughly the same size as Classics Prime to a robot mode that stands a head or two above him.

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Overall

Striker Manus is an extremely excellent transforming action figure, and easily one of the best third-party releases I’ve ever handled. The design and engineering of the figure are well above both official and unofficial Transformers alike, and is a prime example of what third party companies can accomplish. That’s not to say he doesn’t have flaws; the wind vane rifle isn’t quite as impressive as it could be, and of course his general aesthetic isn’t going to work for everyone. There’s also the fact that he’s yet another Optimus Prime, a character the fans tend to grow tired of. I can say that, as someone who does get bored with Optimus Prime figures, Striker Manus is one of the best toys I own, and is without a doubt the best figure of 2016.

Where to Buy

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