I normally won't go near 3-D printed or custom toys, but I made an exception for the Epsilon Buggy NP-03. Mechazone products have an excellent reputation is being durable and supported by the creator if something goes wrong and, well, look at it. If you were playing video games in 1989, you know why I wanted this. It's scaled to work with Diaclone toys - including the recent Dia-Battles figures and robots - so you can combine this mech/vehicle with their limbs and even use their drivers. The color scheme vaguely invokes a piece of software that had its day in the sun a long time ago, but you'll occasionally see it blasting again here and there.
It's sort of maddening how good this is - because it's hand-made and 3-D printed (and discontinued for reasons I cannot fathom), the shiny, sturdy item has been buffed to a nice sheen. There's a clear driver window, and the wheels spin better than most toys I've bought these days. As they are printed on demand and hand-modified, your mileage may vary - but these are some fine wheels. I've bought a lot of Transformers, and this tends to be a bit better than many in that respect. After you plug in some optional missile pods, it's pretty much ready to go out of the baggie - the wheles turn and the cannon can raise. The turret can also rotate, with the wheels moving a bit in a quasi-"jump" position. The various parts and pieces connect mostly by 5mm and 4mm pegs, giving this piece a feel of a lost 1980s toy line. If you told me this could have been a prototype for something Tomy didn't pursue, I'd agree with you.
With a little fidgeting you can get a fun mech mode. The wheels become makeshift hands and feet, and it's a little silly - but it works. I doubt you'll want to display it in that mode, but it helps to reveal just how much is put in a Mechazone kit - not only can it be a freestanding mech, it can serve as a sort of "combiner torso" with Diaclone toys. You can snap arms and legs to it, plus there's a robot head built in for just that very feature. It makes the toy more than a 1980s-inspired toy vehicle, and that's where the expense comes from. How often do you see hand-made stand-alone toys that are also upgrades to expensive Japanese imports these days?
If you have Diaclone pilot figures, I'm told they fit in the cockpit of some of these. I don't own any to test, and my Masterpiece Transformers Spike is too big to close the cockpit. It's sort of fascinating to see what the Mechazone crew cranked out here. It seems that the designer realized that it's a new medium, and took advantage of it to make something that might not have necessarily worked or been viable through normal techniques without a lot more work. Everything fits together nicely, and if you want you can pull it apart to customize with other sets. Having said that, who among us wouldn't kill to have something like this sold on sprues as a kit at a store somewhere?
I won't say this item is going to make you happy you dropped $65 - I like it because it's well-made and a rare physical tribute to a classic thing that I love. It's made well, and seems durable. I hope they make something like this in a bigger run for mass-production, mostly so I can worry a little bit less about breaking a low-run item which was finished by hand. Thankfully there are mini versions still available if you want one, but they lack the mech and Diaclone modes. It's almost infuriating how good this is, mostly because an amazing design and a talented designer are going unexploited by the greater toy industry. Someone should be getting these in toy stores! Also, someone should open a toy store. If you get a chance, grab yourself something from these guys if it tickles your fancy. What I wouldn't give for them to build something for my larger action figures some day.
16bit.com is best not viewed in Apple's Safari browser, we don't know why. All material on this site copyright their respective copyright holders. All materials appear hear for informative and entertainment purposes. 16bit.com is not to be held responsible for anything, ever. Photos taken by the 16bit.com staff. Site design, graphics, writing, and whatnot credited on the credits page. Be cool-- don't steal. We know where you live and we'll break your friggin' legs.