Acid Rain World - Speeder Mark II
Review by Jesse McCracken
Today we are taking our first look at a line I personally took an interest in when I first heard of it this past year, Acid Rain: The War Under Pollution. This new 3.75" scaled line includes original figure and vehicle designs, and an evolving back-story. The universe was created in Hong Kong by creator/designer Kit Lau, and centers on a gritty future Earth where a state of unending World War (since World War II) has devastated the world's environment to the point of almost no return. The original intent of war for territory and political ideals have turned into struggles by competing groups to simply exist in the healthier parts of Earth. Food and water now outweigh politics and pride? It's got all the post-apocalyptic sci-fi goodness a geek could want, and the toys emphasize the harsh world they're based on!
Specifically today we are taking a look at the line's Speeder Mark II, a wheeled vehicle that (like most all vehicles in this universe) appears to serve a dual-purpose role on the battlefield. Part Transformer, part Road Warrior, part World War II evolved, part Star Wars, part G.I. Joe... That's a lot of parts. And this toy line has a lot to like if you're into various other universes and toy lines colliding to create something completely new and exciting.
The Acid Rain World's concept is pure grit and realism. A world where the weapons, vehicles, and the very characters living in it show the signs of fighting endlessly in a harsh environment of an Earth ravaged by decades of war.
The toy line, manufactured by Hong Kong based Ori Toys, puts out a product that will wow even the most jaded collector in terms of paint apps and details. My first thought was their line was maybe akin to something Sideshow Collectibles might put out if they worked in 3.75" scale. Collector focused, but fun and functional too.
The Speeder Mark II's packaging alone catches your eye. It shipped to me packed in a cardboard shipping box (marked with what was inside), then an outer sleeve which features the product's conceptual art on the front. The sleeve slips conveniently over the package's main box which featured a "chipped and worn" look to it. On the back of the sleeve there is kind of goofy, yet catchy and noticeable catchphrase of, "Go Feel It" printed beside a hole for you to actually feel how the company textured the paint on the vehicle so it doesn't just look worn, chipped and rusty... it actually does feel the part. Without ever seeing the toy completely, you instantly know you have something different in your hands than you can just pick up at your local store. You have to hand it to their marketing strategy on making even the packaging interesting and a little interactive.
On the Speeder Mark II, this is also how you tell if you have received the "Star and Stripes" (Simply a star and some bars) variation, or the "Sugar Killer" pin-up image painted on the vehicle's cockpit canopy (a "pin-up" art style girl riding a bomb). Unfortunately when ordering online you cannot pick which you get, and I definitely was more interested in the latter image that is reminiscent of nose-art on military planes and armor. Luckily for me, that's what I wound up with. That was a little anxiety-inducing while I waited though. Both decorations are small details, but are nice unique designs, and the only deco variations on this particular vehicle at the time I received mine. The overall decoration is a "sand" or desert combat look (Marine decoration exists for other vehicles in the line, but not the Speeder as of yet).
When you open the box, the vehicle itself is safely packaged inside a 2-piece embossed foam "case" holding and protecting your precious toy treasure you just received. I'm not much of a packaging guy, but if you get one of these things damaged, I can't fathom it would've happened in shipping. These boxes feel like you've actually ordered some military hardware with all the protection they come packed in! There is a little cubby on one side for the included pack-in action figure, and tucked neatly inside are the printed materials.
The paperwork for the toy deserves its own inspection! First is an instruction sheet, which is actually the back of a poster of the Mark II Speeder's concept art. They really nicely integrate the instructions into something that would display well itself on your collection wall behind your Acid Rain World toys, and I appreciate that a lot. What really surprised me though, was the extra little piece of paper you received.
I've seen few reviews even mention this, actually. It's a simple weathered sheet of decal-like accessories you are to cut out, and display around your vehicle as if it were stomping around some urban setting! They include old newspapers (x4), envelopes for letters (x8), bundling straps (x2), personal letters (x5), manilla office envelopers (x3), and 4 tiny photographs of people (x4).
Yes, you read that correctly. You actually get debris! They are printed to look worn from the sun and weather, and the front and back are printed so you're not left with a clean white backing. There are fold lines on the envelopes so you can easily fold and glue them, and the writing and type on all of them is very tiny, but able to be read with a good magnifying glass or microscope (seriously, I have been going through the letters and such. It's trippy). The attention to detail that Ori Toys is willing to put into something like this is mind blowing. This didn't cost them much, but you have to admit you're pretty lucky to get this little extra for no real reason other than they could do it! I call that quality.
Moving along, the pack-in figure is one Sol Commander figure from the line, and he sports a removable vest and helmet, which both fit fairly snug and secure to the soldier. The figure is painted with all the grit and realism of the vehicles he is made to command. I would describe Acid Rain figures as "Ultra Articulated". I would put their articulation count anywhere from 18 to 19 points, depending on how particular you want to get on articulation snobbery, but it is done in ways that make it superior to most G.I. Joes even in terms of poseability. There is a fragile feel to the figure, but with some care I loosened all the joints and I've not run into any issues. The figure features various types of joints, and allow for what I can only describe as the most articulated 3.75" figure I've ever messed with. His deco is superb, features a variety of muted colors, all of which were very neatly applied, and the weathering is pretty extreme on him. Individual figures retail for around $20-$24 outside of the vehicles, and the one that comes with the Speeder Mark II does not come with a rifle, but he's an appreciated pack-in regardless.
The Speeder itself arrives in "vehicle mode", which is to say it's a 6-wheeled dune-buggy type of armored car. It's not particularly large, but feels weighty due to its dual-purpose design to transform. It's about the size of a Hasbro snowspeeder or so, but it rocks a ton of details. From headlights, to removable accessories, and various details around the armor plating. It really would look sharp as a vehicle in your G.I. Joe collection, your Rebel Alliance (not very Imperial looking) collection, or just its own collection of Acid Rain World toys.
There are two removable entrenching tools (a small pick and shovel) should you get your little vehicle stuck out in the mud, or just want to go build sandcastles. These little tools are a nice extra bit of accessorizing, and harken to the gear stowed on military vehicles of our past and present. Also there are two little removable cases on the rear deck of the vehicle that almost look like armor at first glance. They are intended to be removed however, and do so easily. On top of that they open up, and you can store your... uh... whatever I guess, inside them! Both seem to have markings indicating the squadron or regiment they come from. The cases pry open with a little work. I recommend caution and pried mine open slowly with a hobby knife. Likewise I used great care getting the tools to pop off the front of the vehicle. The heavy paint chipping detail seals up some of these pieces, and you'll just want to use caution on moving or removing any piece till you loosen it up some.
The vehicle itself features a plethora of small details. There are tiny hand-hold pieces glued into the hull at various points (possibly covering screw-holes). They're raised, and would allow you to customize your Speeder with stowage like tow chain, netting, rope, backpacks, or whatever stowage you choose. Likewise there are small details like recessed lug-nut ports on the wheels, access ports scuplted into the armor hull, canisters, and more. Also there are two rear-view mirrors, and the toy's designers had the forethought to mold them in a very pliable rubber. While some may complain, the reality is these would've surely snapped off immediately had they been done any other way.
The vehicle really is comprised of quite a few individual pieces despite its size. With them taking the time to cover up screw-hole ports with some of these detail pieces, you know they wanted to put out a quality visual presentation. A tip of the hat to whoever designed this because not only is it made to look seamless, it's also made to function and transform into its "mech" or "walker" mode without any hassle!
Now the fun begins! The instruction pamphlet/artwork poster mentioned earlier, helps guide you step-by-step from getting the figure inside the cockpit and strapped in with the working harness, all the way to transforming the Speeder Mark II from Vehicle Mode to Mech Walker mode! The joints are virtually invisible on this, so the instructions are appreciated, however they're not totally necessary. Most adult collectors would pretty easily (and carefully!) figure it out on their own. I suggest using the instructions on your first run though. The total transformation is 24 steps, and works pretty smoothly. Each joint has various geared joints to hold the vehicle's poses with some stability, and yet allows for easy posing. Again I recommend caution when posing your toy, but you can achieve a shocking variety of walking or "action poses". IE: It can look like it's doing more than just standing there! The vehicle is really a figure itself.
The toy's designers are really genius engineers. While a traditional transformer these days has what I consider to be unsightly joints that detract from its vehicle appearance, the Speeder Mark II, truly looks like two unique toys. The "feet" are the front wheels, and that could've proven problematic if not for ingenious use of the front armor/mud flaps being hinged to lock the wheels in place. Otherwise the Mech Walker mode would almost be on roller-skates. Ori Toys triumphs at overcoming small obstacles like that though.
Again, I emphasize that you use caution when breaking the joints loose while you transform the toy from one mode to the other for the first few times at least. The paint wash/wear seals up some of the joints, and you need to just be careful. These are toys, but they're specifically made for adults or older kids. They're much more a collectible you can play with carefully.
Wrapping up the review, I can't say enough good things about the paint job. It's more than just chipped and worn looking. It's chipped and worn FEELING! Short of a professional modeler's work, this toy has tried to simulate rust, wear, tear, and a toy that looks more like a work of modeling skill than a toy. There is obvious stippling and other modeling techniques used to achieve the look they were going for. Add in the toy's design and engineering, and you're left with something really special, but at a pretty steep price too. I personally feel the price matches the quality though, and I'm notoriously cheap. This is something you'll not feel buyer's remorse once you hold one and have it interact with your other toys. You'll simply want to buy more of them.
I actually am buying them to mix them into my Star Wars universe. I could easily see collectors of G.I. Joe falling in love with these (the figures definitely are more G.I. Joe than Star Wars), and I frankly think the Acid Rain World universe is rich with possibility itself. There is a lot of back story Kit Lau is clearly working to flesh out, and I can't wait to see more! Speaking of, stay tuned as I plan to take looks at future items from the Acid Rain World, and appreciate your taking the time to read my thoughts on this fantastic toy.
If you're interested in purchasing, our sponsor Entertainment Earth is taking orders as we speak on all the available product from the Acid Rain World!
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