Without a doubt, the Glacialord set from Fans Project, part of the Retro-Future subset, is one of my favourite 3rd Party releases of all time.
Before we even get to the toys themselves, lets have some appreciation for the boxes; this set of toys not only homages the perils of collecting old toys, but it does so with a wicked sense of humour. The back of the packaging is adorned with fake stills from a TV show of Glacialord that never happened, as well as a very G1 like art. Like Marvel’s Sentry comic, these toys are best appreciated when you play along with the joke, that these are lost toys from the 1980’s that have recently been found, and there is a whole universe of story and character out there waiting to be discovered.
All the boxes come pre-worn, with creases, tears, stress-marks and fading all PRINTED onto the box. The tear on Razorspike’s packaging has been seen a million times on genuine retro toys, and the fading on Tusker’s packaging makes it look and feel exactly like it’s sat in a window unsold for decades. Thankfully, this sort of reproduction fading means the toy inside is unharmed, unlike a lot of real sun-faded packaging.
But we’re not done yet! Anyone who collects Brave knows the peril of trying to find a complete set of something like Silverion, before having to settle for the Korean Sonoking for the fourth member. This is replicated perfectly with Megazero, so much so that FPCore had a little fun with it, and announced the destruction of the entire shipment of Megazero toys using Google Translate to ensure an accurate Chinglish experience such as; “We regret to inform you that your part of the goods does not reach…”, before putting out a shipment update explaining that replacements had been sourced from Korea after a shipment find: “It was in an old abandoned distribution center just a few hours outside of Busan, that they discovered there were still some of these versions stored away. Although featured in different packaging, this version of Megazero is exactly the same as it’s North American counterpart and come complete with sticker sheets, instructions and accessories…”
Amazingly good fun!
And the attention to detail continues when you open the packaging, with the items ship with polystyrene innards, and while we wouldn’t want to see a return to this packaging as standard due to ethical / sustainability concerns, it does nicely homage that 80s toy collecting experience. Also, it’s worth noting that the included sticker sheets are all half applied, replicating nicely that second hand toy experience.
On to the toys!!!
We start with this guy, purely because he was my first experience of the Retro-Future flavour. Sure, this set had been rumoured for a few years, but out of the blue back in early 2013, Tailclub arrived at my designer friend’s house as FP were looking for feedback on the set. Immediately, the designer and I were sold on the concept and the execution and gave our positive feedback to FP, so much so that I continually pitched the idea of a sticker set to the poor folks at FP until they acquiesced, and finally this year the sticker book became a reality, and I was lucky enough to write it, including all their official profiles.
Before the team was devolved, Tailclub was a very famous playboy philanthropist, dedicating just enough time to seemingly altruistic exploits to justify his outlandish behaviour on the nightclub scene. Indeed, this is how he got his name.
However, his name still fits, as – arguably – he suffered the most in his devolution, with his behaviour becoming almost feral at times and he often uses his tailclub to speak for him, rarely using words when a swing of the club or a bash on a table will do. This eccentricity has almost led to him becoming ostracised from his faction, but his Glacial-bot team-mates stand by him.
Tailclub tranforms into a Doedicurus, with his alt. mode head forming part of his melee weapon, and his weapon forming part of Glacialords combined Mega-weapon. He becomes the left-leg of Glacialord as standard.
He’s constantly trying to tell everyone how much of a bad-ass he is. He likes to tell people his motto is “You won’t like me when I’m Fangry”. Ask him about any major battle over the last million years, and he can tell you exactly what it was like and how his participation changed the battle.
This is all a cover, to try and hide the fact that he is the biggest coward on either side of the war. Often seen hiding under fallen enemies during battles, pretending to be dead or injured. It’s not that he is a bad ‘bot, but he has a crossed-wire in his flight or fight circuit, which conveniently shuts-off when combined.
Fangro becomes a Sabre-toothed tiger, with his alt. mode head and tail combining to make a hand-gun for his robot mode, as well as forming the front-end of the Mega-weapon. He becomes the left arm of Glacialord.
Tusker, the central core and torso for the set, was next to be released. In a bizarre twist on the standard, he saw release in Canada and the UK first, in very limited quantities at TFCon and Auto Assembly 2013. In a twist on the usual Scramble City standard, Tusker is NOT the leader of the team;
Forming the central section of Glacialord, Tusker makes up the muscle for the team. He has always taken on the role of protector, even when he was a young ‘Bot he would put himself in harms way to protect those smaller or weaker than him.
Despite this bravery and his obvious strength, Tusker is often teased for his slow speech patterns, and other bots often make the mistake of thinking Tusker is unintelligent. Because of this, Tusker is quite shy and reserved, and chooses to remain quiet most of the time.
You can pick on him, tease him and even threaten him, and he will always walk away (albeit slowly) – but if he sees someone else in trouble or being picked on, he becomes a different beast altogether. It’s this fiery side which comes out when the team is combined and gives Glacialord such ferocity.
Tusker transforms into a mammoth, and his trunk becomes his weapon, and the central part of the combined mode Mega-Weapon.
Razorspike is the consummate average robot; he’s never exceeded at anything in his entire life, but there is little he cannot turn his hand to at least competently. His tech-spec read-outs are a straight 5 across the board, his grades on any test are a straight “C” average, he would be the biggest also ran in the history of the war if it wasn’t for one fact: he is part of the mighty Glacialord.
You’ve never met another ‘Bot who is as proud of his gestalt mode as this guy is! If you ask Razorspike if he prefers his robot mode or his alt. Mode, he will carefully and concisely weigh all the evidence, before answering “leg mode” without a hint of irony.
Razorspike transforms into a Wooly Rhino, and while his head / weapon doesn’t contribute to Glacialord’s Mega-weapon, it does become a blaster and spiked weapon for his rhino mode. As mentioned above, he becomes the right leg as standard.
Although he is one of the weakest members of the team, with the most vulnerable alt. Mode, Megazero is incredibly fast in both modes which has always kept him out of danger. The only thing faster than his (animal mode) feet, is his brilliant, tactical brain. Even devolved into his current form, Megazero uses his advanced processor speeds to make the best of all situations.
Megazero is the secret leader of the Glacialbots. For any outsiders viewing the group Tusker would appear to be the leader, but secretly Megazero is in charge and passing his orders on to Tusker, who sees this as part of his role as a protector; drawing attention away from Megazero in the event of assassins or mercenaries.
Megazero transforms into a robotic Elk, and his head detaches for his antlers to become a sword weapon for him to weld in robot mode. Most commonly becomes the right arm of Glacialord.
Glacialord is the combined mode of the Glacialbots!
Megazero’s brain, Tailclub’s brutality, Tusker’s brawn, Razorspike’s positivity and even Fangro’s inner desire to be a brave hero; all of these work together to make Glacialord a true combiner success, delivering a bot who is truly more than the sum of his parts. Individually, every team member has major character flaws and weaknesses, but these are all overcome when they work as a team with excellent cognitive synergy.
Utilising the Scramble City method of combination, any limb can become any other limb. I tend to break from the preferred method of combination and swap Tailclub and Fangro, as the engineering on Tailclub’s legs mean they can double up as an elbow joint for combined mode.
The figures all fit perfectly into that G1 Scramble City aesthetic and scale, but also encompass a Breast-Master feature that includes a Soleron companion, who is actually the character operating the robot transtector. The Solerons can ride on top of the alt. modes Dinoking style, or can stay inside their transtector suits in animal or combined mode.
Everything stores away with the individual robots utilising all the pieces in every mode with absolutely zero left over kiddle. The foot plates / chestplate doubling up as shields for the individal bots. This is a great feature for those of us who like to transform out Scramble City combiners without digging through part boxes or risk losing bits if you don’t put them away immediately! The one negative being that the different shields for the different characters give Glacialord different feet, and that is one part of the G1 combiners that I think looks
better neater than this set, but that’s such a minor quibble for a beautiful set I feel bad for even mentioning it. For a while I did have two sets, and I used to have matching feet for the combined mode, but over the years I’ve felt bad straying from the designer’s original intention and have conformed.
On the same lines as the above, the gestalt hands neatly store inside Tusker’s animal feet. As well as this, the combined mode head is a permanent part of Tusker, similar to how Defensor’s head is a part of Hot-Spot.
The same below for the combined Mega-Weapon. It doesn’t just give him a bigger gun for combined mode, it also uses left-over pieces from the alt. modes. These might seem a minor point to some people, but for me, it just shows extra care and attention to detail, and shows how much thought was put into the planning and design of these amazing toys.
Transformation on these is as you’d expect for G1 homages, easy, quick and intuitive. They’re an absolute joy to handle in all modes.
It might be quite apparent by now how much I adore this set. It does seem that these are not for everyone, and I think that’s a real shame. These should have been the toys that bridged the gap between G1 collectors / Transformers puritans and the 3P companies, providing a set of toys which are completely new characters and concepts but undeniably G1 throughout without even a hint of Ip theft. These could have healed the rift between those two disparate collector mentalities.
Instead, they seem to have been too G1 for a lot of modern 3P collectors who often put design intricacy and poseability top of their list, but too new and different for a lot of G1 collectors who are happy with the finite nature of their G1 collecting goals.
Thankfully, these did find a place in the hearts of a lot of collectors like myself, who love the concept, execution, and the tongue in cheek nature of their publicity and packaging.
I just wish there were more of them.
ADDENDUM – THE COMPUTRON THEORY
One theory surrounding the Glacialbots that seems to persist, is that he might in some way be a version of Computron. This may have been compounded by this image circulating, an image perhaps used only to show the interchangeable G1 style limbs:
While there are similarities between colour schemes, and parallels such as the nosecone legs and the antlers of Megazero creating a silhouette similar to Strafe’s weapons, there has never been any official word on this from FP or FPCore, and their continuity is completely separate from any TF lore, so whether Computron / Quantron or any other version of the character exists in the FPCore storyline is unknown.
Although there are references to the characters being devolved, so who knows?
As always, thanks for reading.