Recently I had the pleasure to build and play around with a very interesting and unique custom LEGO model by LEGO fan alanyuppie from Malaysia. It is basically a LEGO Transformers autobot; morphing from an innocent looking van into a giant robot, codenamed Metalhide. Metalhide is based on Ironhide, one of the main autobots from Transformers. 🙂
This is actually not the first LEGO Transformers model Alan built. If you check out his blog, you will see that he has a whole collection of amazing LEGO robots and autobots. And yes, these models actually transform; in other words you don’t have to rebuild the van into a robot like you would find in the official LEGO Creator sets, nor do you have to take any pieces off or put extra pieces on. You simply unfold the van into its bot-mode with a few smooth twists and turns of it’s various sections – just like a traditional Transformers toy.
Alan talks on his blog about how Metalhide came about (edited slightly for clarity): “Recently going through pictures of my past LEGO creations I came across an Ironhide prototype I made in yellow. I kept wondering why I put this project in limbo. Suddenly I felt an urge to bring this model to closure, so project Ironhide was re-born. Actually I was not too keen on the vehicle-mode at first (plain old boxy van), but since G1 Ironhide doesn’t have a ‘proper’ toy reference I was spurred to take on the challenge. The original Transformers Ironhide toy is different from its cartoon counterpart. The toy van transform into a mobile command/attack-center with a seat for human pilot. After browsing through numerous Ironhide illustrations I settled with a version with grey shoulders, white torso and grey thighs.” Here is a video of both the vehicle-mode and the bot-mode of Metalhide. Unfortunately the video doesn’t show the actual transformation process, but I have done it and it works… mostly.
If you have been building with LEGO for a while now you know that creating a transforming LEGO model is not an easy task, however it is undeniably fun, and something that likely most LEGO fans have tried at some point in their LEGO building career. In fact LEGO itself usually ads transformation features to their play-sets – just look at the LEGO Legends of Chima and LEGO Ninjago vehicles! However these transformation are in general fairly simple; folding wings, hidden weapons, cars or airships splitting into two separate vehicles, etc.
In case of Metalhide, the entire vehicle unfolds into a robot and vice-versa. An incredibly ambitious undertaking for sure, and there are some very-very clever building techniques used to achieve this. You can see on the pictures here that both the robot version and the van version are well-built and look good. The robot-mode has movable arms, legs, head, and of course giant guns. (The orange one shoots acidic/high-temperature stuff, while the blue one is for super-cooled liquids to freeze the target. Ironhide is a trusted body-guard of Optimus Prime, so yeah, he needs big weapons!). The vehicle mode of Metalhide is very interesting. Although it looks like a van on the outside, and it can roll around, inside it is jam-packed with the folded-in parts of the robot, and now the big guns are on top of the vehicle.
Such full transformation of one LEGO model to another is extremely impressive, but it also comes with its own set of challenges; it must be very well built and all parts locked in securely to be able to survive the transformation process. In regards to Metalhide, although I have successfully transformed my robot into van-mode, I’m not looking forward to do it again. This is probably due to the fact that I’m not as familiar with the model as the original creator, and most notably because there are a couple of sections (the arms and the cockpit) tend to fall off during the transformation process, due to lack of proper locking techniques. It’s a shame because other than this issue the rest of Metalhide transforms smoothly.
You might ask why I’m being critical of such an amazing LEGO creation. It would be enough to just congratulate the creator and be inspired by their model. The reason I’m including both the pros and cons of my experience while playing with this model is because Alan is planning to sell his LEGO Transformers (Metalhide is already available and more coming), and he asked me for feedback. It is one thing to build a LEGO creation for yourself and for others to admire, and a completely different thing to offer your model for sale so other people could build it.
From that perspective I would say that Metalhide is almost there, but not quite. The instructions to build the robot were easy to follow (although there were a couple of mixed-up steps), the final model is amazing, but the transformation process falls a short due to the sections I mentioned above falling off. An experienced LEGO builder could handle this, but someone less familiar with the building process and expecting the same quality and play-experience as from an official LEGO set would be disappointed, even frustrated. I have alerted Alan about the problems I ran into and he said he is going to fix them as soon as possible.
Having said all of that, if you are an experienced LEGO builder who is interested in the LEGO Metalhide Transformers model and would like to support a fellow LEGO fan, you can purchase the set at bricklabel.net. It is $120 and available in very limited quantity. You can also visit alanyuppie’s blog for more pictures of Metalhide here and here and other LEGO robots.
So what do you think? How do you like the LEGO Ironhide/Metalhide model? Did you ever attempt to build your own LEGO Transformers? feel free to share, ask questions, or discuss in the comment section below! 😉
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