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Published on April 6th, 2011 | by Sharp-O

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Mint in Box #15: Convertor Train Knock-off

Legends speak of the knights of crimson, jade and cobalt. Born of iron and with hearts of burning justice; united in their pursuit of those who would spread darkness over their domain. As long as there is an ember of life left within them, they will always come together in times of need, helping the weary travelers of the island paradise of Sodor. They are….

Not quite that epic, I’m afraid! That was good wasn’t it? I hope it was. Anyway, welcome to my very first knock-off review! Normally, I’m not a fan of knock-off toys (because they’re mostly horrible) but sometimes, there comes a toy so ludicrous that becomes sought after by collectors. Case in point, our subject today; the infamous Thomas the Tank Engine Combiner!
A couple years back, this thing surfaced from that Mecca of knock-off tat, China. It hung around for a couple years in those markets before Birmingham-based peddler of cheapness, Funtastic, regurgitated it in the cheapest way possible and released them on singular cards through that most awesome of recession-proof high street stores, Poundland. So technically this is a knock-off of a knock-off.

I’d tell you what this is a knock-off of but I’m lost for words, the patent date says 1997 to a company called Leader Shine but a cursory look online only really reveals a listing for another knock-off toy so your guess is as good as mine, regardless these three are a fun little bunch. They’re just three little trains. Three little trains pretending to be Thomas the Tank Engine trains. The plastic is surprisingly good quality on these, with plenty of details adorning in solid colour plastic. There’s a few paint applications but nowhere near as many as I’d like. I think once the pictures are done, I’ll be taking a crack at repainting these guys.

The way these three combine is very reminiscent of the Megazord in Power Rangers. The blue and green engines split into three components, the front and back (caboose?) forming arms while the middle section forms a leg. Fairly simple  but very effective. The red engine forms the bulk of the body, separating into two pieces and then it’s a matter of folding the panels around into a torso. For the most part, everything connects fairly well but there are some clearance issues as well as issues with the plastic being ill-fitting in some places.

In their combined mode they cut a fairly impressive, if garish, figure. He’s a hefty S.O.B that’s for damn sure. The gold wings are actually geared to move in tandem with each other, a feature I thought would be next to useless at this price point. But considering how cheap this thing is, it’s pretty damn cool. It’s like some industrial super sentai robot of death! The arms hold in place really well and will do a full 360 degrees of rotation at the shoulder. The legs are a pain in the hole though. The pegs that hold the legs in place aren’t thick enough to hold them well and they tend to fall off quite often but they hold the figure up just fine when they work.

For a combined price of £3, it’s a steal and a goofy enough display piece to get folks talking (or worrying about your mental faculties) and I actually recommend hunting these three down. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a train to catch!

– Richard Sharpe

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