iGear Toys' "Kup01" upgrade head set
for Generations Kup
Colors: Molded turquoise green; Painted off white, silver, blue, dark grey.
So maybe geriatrics isn't exactly up your alley. And it's hard to argue that Generations Kup isn't wearing a heck of a lot of age on its face. The cartoon consistently portrayed Kup as aged, but more like retirement age. I think the toy kinda passed that by a while ago. If your preference for Kup falls more along the line of the later IDW portrayal of the grizzled career soldier (setting aside that unfortunate withered dementia phase) then you're not out in the cold. iGear presented the early stages of this set some months ago already and it gained a good bit of interest right away. I think what really turned interest into sales was the price, though. How much would you pay for two heads? Possibly not as much as you'd think!
For purposes of complete evaluation, I went through the procedure once using the included screwdriver. It's nice that they included everything necessary to complete the switch from stock head to custom, but the truth is that if you have remotely large hands, the screwdriver is going to be pretty awkward to handle because it's very tiny. Remember, the box that contains all the parts is less than 2 inches on a side. Man, the Your Mom jokes are just buzzing around in my head right now... The point is that it is possible to do the work with the included tool if not easy, but I think you'll probably want to break out something you're more comfortable with. If you do lack a properly sized screwdriver, most dollar stores sell a little set of "precision" screwdrivers which will meet your needs and make the job a lot easier.
Anyway, as for the process itself, if you were anything like me as a kid, you most likely have a great deal of experience taking a screwdriver to your toys already. This is a lot like that. Kup's original head in some cases is reported to be glued, and may require some careful prying along the seam to break the bond. My instance of the toy came apart without any such fuss, though. The socket for the neck ball joint is fully on the back half of the head (the front half basically pinching it closed), so after you separate the halves, you'll still need to pop the back half free. And that'll be exactly where to start installing the new head. The only problem I really ran in to after I started using my own tools was that on the non-cy-gar head getting the seam to close flush all the way down proved difficult. But that may have also been to do with my reluctance to put too much stress on the head from over-tightening. The smoker head didn't have any kind of problem like that, though.
Of particular importance I think is that the color match between the heads and the original toy is pretty good. The head is a little bit off from the main body color, but seems to match the secondary plastic that it's immediately next to better. Regardless, unless you're doing a severely critical examination or have some freakish degree of color perception it won't be obvious at all.
It may go without saying that these heads favor IDW's Kup more than any other source. After all, that was kind of the point behind these in the first place. But for the cy-gar head, it's so much so that you can basically trace the appearance of the head back to one specific comics panel on the TFWiki's Kup page. It's a serious contrast to the original head which really attempted to emphasize advanced age, being that it's the most significant trait of the character that can be reproduced in plastic. IDW's Kup had a phase like that, but the later appearances depict a character that has been overhauled (in-story) to take some years off. Plastic surgery, if you like.
The face is much wider than the original, sparing you that sunken cheeks look that so many people seem to take issue with. The smaller eyes also reduce the capacity for Dull Surprise, and of course the mouth isn't molded in an ambiguously dropped-jaw state for either of these heads. The top of the head is also flattened, which helps make the shape more like a helmet rather than an odd hat. Basically, where the toy's stock head is asking "where's my pills?", this one is more about snarling or barking out some orders. There's only two complaints I'd really speak about the sculpt. First is that I wish the eyes were set a little bit lower. Being right under the bottom edge of the "helmet" makes them kind of hard to distinguish in most typical lighting, which somehow also makes the paint applications look sloppy. The other thing is that I would have liked if the no-smoking head wasn't just the same expression mirrored. Something a little bit more neutral might have been a better idea for an option head.
In my case, the cy-gar head fit well on the ball joint and moves with just the right amount of friction that you typically want from a ball joint. The other head was a lot looser on the neck, moreso than the original head even. That goes back to the seam that wouldn't close completely, but I'm not sure that's a factor, as the tension part of the socket is all in the back half of the head. If it proves to be a problem and can be traced to minor production variance, a coat of superglue or clear nail polish inside the socket ought to help it. The range of motion is comparable to the original head, but maybe with slightly more forward tilt. The head, even with the cy-gar can turn a full 360 without interference. However, if you have the head tilted forward, the cy-gar will probably hit part of the collar that stick up to either side of the head. I mention it specifically because if you're not aware of the possibility and don't notice it caught there, it wouldn't be hard to snap the cy-gar off. A few people have reported receiving the set with the cy-gar coming off the head. The cy-gar is a separate piece which pegs into the one head and is likely supposed to be glued in place. The reported cy-gar failures all seem to fall in the range of absent or not enough glue and can be fixed. It's not any problem of breaking in transit.
Speaking of breaking, the safety of the cy-gar during transformation was a particular concern for me ever since the set was announced. I was very happy to find that in fact once the head is dropped down for transformation, the cy-gar doesn't even come close to another surface that could even remotely pose a threat to it. It remains safely shielded the entire time the toy is transforming or in vehicle mode.
Though shipped from iGear in a padded envelope, technically the packaging for this is a small plastic box. Fairly plain on the outside aside from a large iGear logo stamped into the lid. To safely contain its cargo, there are two layers of foam inside. One has cut outs to house the heads and screwdriver, much like you might see done for expensive electronics or other fragile objects. This remains useful, since it provides safe storage for the surplus iGear head as well as the disembodied original. Plus, as an advertised feature, the box is sized to fit in Kup's bed in vehicle mode. So he can drive around with a box full of heads. You know, this somehow seemed better on paper...
I was sold on this based on the concept of IDW Kup being equivalent to A-Team's Hannibal. That immediately forced the image of Kup in a nun outfit and all hope was lost. If you're among the people who don't really take to the original head for the Kup toy, this will likely be a much easier sell to you. For $12 shipped from the manufacturer it's a steal. Other retailers have gotten supplies of these as well, albeit at higher prices and added shipping costs.
It's a simple set, manufactured well, and it does exactly what it sets out for. There's small details I'd like to be different, but certainly not deal-breaking. It's a Good upgrade, and definitely better if you actually think there's a problem with Kup as it's sold. They're also doing a set (at a bit higher price) to match the eHobby Kup. But I'm happy enough to leave that with its original parts.
Other Reviews in Transformers:
All figures, toy lines, and the characters they represent are Copyright and Trademark their respective owners. All reviews and photographs contained herein are the property of ExVeeBrawn and RAC. The opinions expressed herein are those of ExVeeBrawn and RAC, and do not represent the opinions of any manufacturers, or copyright or trademark owners.