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Series: TFC Toys
Allegiance: Other
Year: 2012

Prelude: The Iron Army dudes are not official Transformers from Hasbro or Takara-Tomy. They were created by TFC Toys and represent no specific Transformers character, though they are designed to interact with the Power Core Combiner Transformers, obviously.

Also, don’t be alarmed because they are no individual pics visible on the image map above. Seeing as I took quite a few pics of these guys but didn’t want to break them up into multiple reviews, I have only linked their respective galleries above, not each individual picture. Just click on the figure in question and it’ll take you to the gallery.

Robot Modes (Tanks): One thing worth mentioning right at the get-go: T-34 and Tiger-1, the two tank robots, are not repaints of each other. They have a very similar design, yes, but their sculpt is very different. T-34 is taller while Tiger-1 is broader, and they have different arms, different chests, and different turrets/weapons, too.

That said, these two figures are very nice robots. They’re somewhere between Legends and Scout sized, but are more articulated than many bigger figures I can think of. All sorts of poses are no problem for either one. They both use their tank turrets for weapons, which they can either hold in their hands or plug into their forearms. Also, they each have a second weapon (really the foot of the combiner mode), which is basically a second turret and can be used accordingly.

Look-wise I like Tiger-1 a bit better (and not just because I’m a German, mind you) due to his stockier build and the head and chest sculpt. That’s not saying that T-34 is looking bad, mind you. They managed to instil quite a bit of personality in both of them, making Tiger-1 look more rough-and-tumble while T-34 looks more arrogant and aloof. So bottom line, two very nice robot modes, similar, but different enough to warrant getting both (if you weren’t already doing that because of the combiner thing, that is).

Alternate Modes (Tanks): Given their names, it’s hardly surprising what these two robots transform into. The T-34 and the Tiger-1 are among the most well-known tank designs of World War II. The T-34 was the backbone of the Soviet armies, while the German Tiger-1 was far less numerous, but just as prolific. I’m no military buff so I can only tell you that the two tanks do resemble their real-life counterparts reasonably well.

Not really a lot more I can write here. Both tanks have turrets that can turn freely and the gun barrels can elevate a bit, too. The turrets can also be replaced by the grey extra weapons, but they look better with their ‘real’ turrets. So bottom line: nice tank modes.

Robot Modes (Planes): Much like the two tank robots, the two jet robots are of similar design, but not repaints of each other. Both form their arms from the wings of the planes and their legs from the tail, making them look a bit disproportioned with big upper bodies and rather thin, gangly legs. It’s not bad, but they certainly look more awkward than their stockier tank comrades.

Their articulation is quite excellent, though, especially the arms. Considering that they are made from the wing surfaces, that’s quite a feat of engineering. Both robots also feature very nice sculpting details. J7 Shinden looks almost like a Samurai in armour (especially the head) while P-51 Mustang looks... well, different. Not really sure how one would look ‘American’, but he does. Might just be the Airforce crest on his chest. Anyway, both are pretty good, only the lower bodies take a bit getting used to.

As weapons the two use the tail sections of their jet modes, which unfold barrels. Both also have the fists of the combiner modes along, but can’t really use them in either mode. So bottom line: nice robot modes, though not as good-looking as their tank comrades.

Alternate Modes (Planes): Again, the names give away the alternate mode. But while the P-51 Mustang is one of the most famous airplanes of the WWII era, I don’t think too many people have heard of the J7 Shinden and, to be honest, I was a bit confused at first because I kept turning him the wrong way. Truth is: the Shinden has its propeller in the back. It was an experimental model designed by the Japanese near the end of the war with the intent of having a fighter that could easily be retrofitted with jet engines as they became available. Only two prototypes were ever built, though.

Both planes look very nice, have lots of sculpted detail and look – to my untrained eye, at least – quite realistic. Not much else I can write here, though. Neither plane includes a landing gear, but considering the size and the engineering involved in making a robot this small articulate, transformable and combinable, I can easily forgive that. So bottom line, nice jet modes. Thumbs up.

Combination Mode: The main reason for most people to get these four guys is, of course, that they can serve as limbs to a Power Core Combiner. The tanks become the legs, while the airplanes become the arms. Left and right can be interchanged at will, but not arms and legs. Given their military aspect, they fit best with military-style PCC commander figures such as Bombshock or Heavytread. Since I only own Bombshock, that’s who you’re seeing in the combiner gallery, but I’ll add more pics if other PCC Commanders that fit with these guys should come into my possession.

The two tank guys form the legs and have it pretty easy, as they basically remain tanks. The feet have ankles, so posing is not a problem and they are big enough to give the combiner a solid stance. The jets form the arms and have a lot more to do, as they have to incorporate an elbow joint that swivels and bends both. It works, another great engineering feat. The fist comes with an articulated wrist and the combiner can now hold the two guns of the jets either singly or combined into one. All very nicely done.

My greatest beef with the Power Core Combiners was the drone limbs, which a) didn’t become robots and b) usually weren’t much for posing. The Iron Army ticks both boxes and finally gets the most out of the PCC toyline. I actually hope there will be more Iron Army PCC limbs if these four are any indication of the potential herein.

Remarks: TFC’s choice to use WWII era vehicle modes for their new figures might be interpreted as a homage to the G1 Combaticons. In the G1 cartoon series, Starscream created the Combaticons from the wreckage of WWII era vehicles (though how he made a space shuttle from a wrecked propeller plane is anyone’s guess). Also, the pairing choices are a bit odd, as I don’t think many Russian tanks fought Japanese airplanes and while German tanks certainly had to compete with American aircraft, it would probably have made more sense to pair up the tanks and the aircrafts respectively. Anyone interested in these guys was gonna buy all four anyway.

At the end of the day, though, you have the best kind of third-party product here. Four original characters that are not a knock-off of any existing Transformers figure, fully able to stand on their own, but also fully compatible with ‘real’ Transformers, in this case the Power Core Combiners. Nicely done. I didn’t think too much of the Iron Army dudes when they were first announced, but now I’m a fan. Recommended to all fans of combiners in general and military-vehicle Transformers.

Tiger-1: A-
T-34: B+
P-51 Mustang: B
J7 Shinden: B-

Overall: B+
Toy DB Link

Picture Galleries:

T-34 vs. J7-Shinden:

Tiger-1 vs. P-51 Mustang:

Iron Army Combined:

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