Friday, 28 October 2016

FansProject Function X: Sigma L

Relevance. The bane of the toy reviewer. You know when the heat of the moment is lost to the icy grip of reality, turning tomorrow's next big thing into yesterday's broken dream? When a forgotten unboxing weeps frightened and alone in the the permanent shadow of a blackened today, as ravenous onyx eyes pierce a darkness that was never given the chance to become light?

That's you trying to get a review out, that is.

With such cheery observations in mind and the season of the witch bearing down upon us, what better time to unearth a rotting corpse of yesteryear? Relevance, my friends. It's a nightmare, but we can make it work for us.

2012 saw Fansproject begin tackling the Headmasters. It's hard to believe now, but back then the floor was theirs. The CHUG party was in full swing, nobody else was dancing the '87 beat and their Function: X line, with its blend of nostalgic and forward thinking moves, had the pick of every belle at the ball. But things change.. and not everybody likes the slow dance.

Masterpiece scale blew up like a bunch of pissed up teens coming of age, hitting the floor hard loaded on cheap shots and hormones. The originators of the scene, HasTak themselves, made moves on the CHUG crowd with newfound aggression, speed and numbers. There was blood. There was a definite schism. There were new dancers in town.

Whilst superficially undeterred by the kicking they had received, Function: X continue to tease new moves but rarely step out to dance amidst growing feeling they are no longer able to compete. One of their number though, in spite of such change, remains timeless. One of their number still stalks the boards breaking hearts and bones. One of their number still owns the night.

The gothic majesty of Sigma L is something impossible to deny and something you cannot simply ignore. Every aspect of his robot mode design speaks to a love of classic horror, red wine, sticky floored clubs in the basements of nowhere and the pounding throbbing nihilism of Andrew Eldritch.

Sigma L cuts a tall and lithe figure, sharp of claw and cloven of hoof. An immaculately turned up collar frames a head that screams robotic vampire, his translucent green goggles suggesting an appreciation of a scene that runs far deeper than casual. Being goth is a serious business, yes? This continues throughout a dominant purple and black colour scheme peppered with neon green and silver.

Upon each shin rests the translucent green half of a cross, the purpose of which becoming readily apparent in his bat mode. And those huge wings, whether outstretched or collapsed, never feel like anything other than the defining part of his overall look.

A combination of ball joints, swivels, hinges and crushed velvet soft ratchets allow for all manner of mournful posing, and while his shotgun weaponry might feel out of place as opposed to say, a scythe or a collection of letters composed to break the empty spark casings of dead fembots, they do look pretty damn good when bringing out the badass.

A few problems perhaps with the weight of his wings occasionally causing the arms to droop, but a dab of clear (not black, no matter how much he begs) nail polish in the ball joint rectifies that perfectly.

This is an absolutely beautiful figure, dripping dark class, high camp and grand guignol. Though visually far removed from his G1 inspiration, Sigma L takes the potential of Mindwipe's bio (that of a fella trying a bit too hard to be 'dark') and completely owns it.

Function: X initially placed a big emphasis on original and innovative transformations - Code and Smart Robin remaining top tier pieces of intuitive, repeatable and downright impressive transforming engineering - but Sigma L copped a bit of flak back in the day for a rather standard conversion. And yes, compared to the origamic alchemy of those two, our vampiric cybergoth does come up a bit short in the engineering.. stakes.

So it's a good job Sigma L's alt mode has a few tricks up his wings to keep things interesting before you begin gazing longingly into the middle distance lamenting what might have been.

Definitely more batty and infinitely less boxy than his G1 forebear, this creature of the night also has character to spare, an absolutely wicked headsculpt and articulation that presents all manner of Chiroptera based posing potential (incidentally, did you know there's a species of bat called the Hairy Slit-Face?).

Sigma L's transforming head has definitely turned up dressed to depress, the arms adorned with what look like oversized hanging black sleeves and the chest emblazoned with a striking silver bat symbol, perfect apparel in which to begin sucking the life out of any room. Do be sure to take care with the hinged visor section on his back - it must be pulled out a touch for transformation - otherwise you'll be sucking the life out of your toy as well.

Being a Headmaster, one expects that integration with the partner continues into vehicle/animal mode and we are not left wanting here, as Sigma L's back section transforms into a coffin. Yeah, you heard me, a coffin. With a translucent green crucifix adorning it.

This is short, dark and gruesome's cockpit - nay this is his coffpit - and it is this stroke of batshit crazy genius that easily establishes Sigma L's position as undisputed robotic champion of the night. Wrap the whole thing up in that deliciously dark colour scheme and here we have an alt mode that fast becomes a form as essential as the robot before it.

In a final touch of elegance and class, those multi jointed wings present the opportunity to pose the bat in as anatomically correct a walking pose as the design allows. This is a really well considered bit of engineering and adds further character and display opportunities to a figure hardly short of them.

While there's every chance the line (and indeed company) that spawned him may never reclaim its place at the top, that FansProject managed to get this refreshingly different Transformer out to collectors remains a high point of their career. Bringing such an OTT character design to life could well have been a recipe for disaster. But two years after his release, Sigma L can barely put a perfectly manicured nail wrong. Still stalking, still dancing...

..still relevant.

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