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Series: Fans Hobby
Allegiance: Destron
Year: 2023

Prelude: In 1992, when Transformers was pretty much over with and done in the US, Europe still saw new toys coming out. Among them were the heroic Turbomasters and their enemies, the evil Predators. The only ground-based Predator was Stalker, the team’s communication specialist. Now, more than 30 years later, Fans Hobby brings us a new version of this European-exclusive character with their TFCon-exclusive Huntsman. Let’s say go!

Robot Mode: Ok, to begin with, let us establish that this figure was not originally created as a homage to G1 Predator Stalker, but rather as a homage to another G1 character, namely Double Dealer. Fans Hobby repurposed that figure (Double Agent) to create Huntsman. Let us also establish that I never owned, nor plan to own, Double Agent, so I can only compare these two versions of the same mold by looking at pictures. With me so far? Good, let’s move on then.

The first thing I noticed when I unpacked this guy was that he is quite heavy. The second thing was that, even though the box is rather small, that’s only because he comes in vehicle mode. Because his robot mode is pretty big. Like old-school Leader-Class big, I mean. A big, hefty bot with nice weight and very tight joints that make proper noise when you move them. Glorious! And move he can, since we are already on that topic. Huntsman is a fully articulated figure, right down to individual fingers, and can move in just about any way you want him, too. He can even unhinge his shoulders so as to move his arms together in front of his chest. So absolutely no complaints here.

Moving on, there are the colors. Oh, what glorious 1990s neon colors these are. Huntsman carries Stalker’s original colors - a nearly turquoise green and a nearly red purple – with distinction and honor. You can look at this figure and you know, without needing to look it up, from which decade he originally hails. My wife has no idea about Predators or 1990s Transformers, but the first thing she said when seeing this guy was: he’s from the 90s, right? Damn right he is!

Now Stalker was a rather basic Transformer in terms of design with two distinguishing characteristics: a huge white missile on one shoulder and a radar dish on the other. Huntsman has both these things (interchangeable, by the way) and looks fabulous wearing them. Now the missile was already present on Double Agent and, like in the days of G1 Double Dealer, splits apart into a smaller missile and a gun. Not quite Stalker’s weapons, but good enough, especially as they colored the gun barrel gold (Stalker’s original gun was a solid gold plastic missile launcher that is liable to break into tiny little pieces of gold glitter if you so much as look at it these days). Huntsman also comes with no less than six green missiles (the standard ordnance of the Predators), which he can store on various spots on his body. Only downside: the gun cannot fire the missiles. Missed opportunity here in my book.

Side note: the gun contains battery-powered lights and sounds, but I haven’t tried those out yet. Not a worthy replacement for the Megavisor system, I’m sure.

Huntsman comes with a Powermaster figure (or I guess you could also call him a Mini-Con), more on that below. In robot mode he wears him in engine mode on his belly, giving him ripped abs. You can leave out the Powermaster, but then there is a rather unspectacular looking gap there. Best to just leave him in.

Now we cannot go to the next mode without mentioning some of the flaws of this figure, too. Overall Huntsman is pretty brilliant, but he does have a rather big backpack, composed of several layers of folded-together plates. It doesn’t unbalance him, it’s not visible from the front, but that’s still a lot of plates folded together back there. Also, if you want to store all six missiles on Huntsman’s robot form, you need to put two onto those purple tire casings back there, which does fit, but not really. Not a big thing, but here you notice that the figure was originally intended to be someone else.

And since we’re on the topic of folded-together plates, the feet are just that. Three layers of folded-together plates. They are stable, they can pose, I am just not one hundred percent satisfied with the look, that’s all. As flaws go, though, those are pretty minor.

So bottom line for the robot mode: Brilliant! Glorious! Fabulous! I love this guy!

Alternate Mode: Stalker transforms into an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) launch vehicle. The actual transformation is not that different from the way the original toy transformed. Huntsman just basically folds in the legs, lies down on his belly, and crosses his arms above his head, done. Quite a few plates need unfolding to complete the chassis of the vehicle, naturally, but overall the process is far less complicated than the instructions make it look.

Stalker and Double Dealer have a very similar vehicle mode, so not too many changes necessary here. Instead of being inside the actual chassis, Huntsman has his tires inside purple casings, which also serve as mounts for his green missiles. The big white missile rests in the center of the vehicle and there is a cockpit visible near the front on the right side. That cockpit can flip open, revealing the serial number of this limited edition toy (509 of 600 in my case). You can also place the Powermaster (see below) into the driver’s seat here. Just be advised that he doesn’t quite fit into the opening as it is, you need to open up the entire front there and then carefully position him in before closing everything up again. Not the smoothest way to place a driver figure, but it works.

There isn’t really much you can do here, to be honest. Huntsman can roll across the floor (rubber tires) and… yeah, that’s pretty much it. Sadly the big white missile cannot elevate, it can only rest flat on the vehicle. There is a kind-of launch base mode included, too, which basically just involves opening up the back of the vehicle (where the Powermaster can attach in engine mode) and sliding out bottom plates where the groves of the missile fit, so it can stand up straight. Not very spectacular, to be honest. So bottom line for the vehicle mode: great resemblance to Stalker’s vehicle mode, but very little play value.

Quick note: Double Agent, much like Double Dealer, was a triple changer and had a bird mode on top of his robot and vehicle mode. Huntsman does not. There are some remnants of the bird mode to be found in the legs and one can imagine that those plates folded together on the back could become wings, but no bird head or feet to be found here.

Partner: As mentioned before, this mold was originally meant for Double Dealer, who came with two Powermasters, one for each mode. Since the bird mode was removed for Huntsman, there is only one Powermaster left, who was called Knok back in G1. The little guy can transform into an engine to plug into Huntsman’s belly in robot mode or the back of the vehicle mode. He can also ride in the vehicle’s cockpit. The figure itself is nicely articulated for it’s size and painted to almost look like a miniature Huntsman. Very nicely done, though at the end of the day the figure is a but superfluous, seeing as Stalker was not a Powermaster and the figure doesn’t unlock any gimmicks. It’s mostly there to ensure that Huntsman’s belly looks ripped.

Remarks: Back in 1992 the Turbomasters and Predators didn’t really have any media accompanying their toys. There was a short comic book included in a 1992 toy catalogue that basically just showed the available toys fighting each other, nothing more than that. It wasn’t until IDW’s Last Stand of the Wreckers that the Predators got to shine a bit. Stalker was part of Skyquake’s assault unit that invaded the Autobot prison Garrus-9. After Overlord took over, Stalker become his interrogation specialist and advisor, taking perverse pleasure in torturing Autobot prisoners. He was eventually killed by Springer, but only after killing his former comrade Snare, who had defected to the Autobots.

So the final verdict on this figure? Huntsman has some minor flaws, most of them resulting from the mold being originally intended for a different character. Overall, though, I love this guy. His size, his paint job, and the wave of early 90s nostalgia. Huntsman is the third Fans Hobby figure portraying characters from the Turbomaster / Predator era (Bossman and Lightning Eagle being the other two) and I hope they will continue to bring us more toys depicting these near-forgotten characters. Maybe even with original molds one of these days, who knows? Bottom line: if you are a fan of the Turbomasters and Predators or simply enjoy big, hefty bots in neon 90s colors, then Huntsman is for you. Good luck trying to find one for a decent price in the aftermarket, though.

Rating: A-

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