Review: Maketoys City Bot Series MCB03 Pandinus

Maketoys pandinus review

When I first clapped eyes on Maketoys Pandinus, I was thrilled to see a figure not trying to force itself to look a certain way to fit a space on your shelf. I saw a toy brimming with possibilities and imagination. The eye watering price tag instantly took it back out of my mind as quickly as it had popped in there.

Fast forward a few months and the kind folks over at Kapow Toys asked if I fancied borrowing a Pandinus to take a look at. A few weeks later and the largest box I have ever received was walking up my driveway.

Before we truly get started, if you enjoy this article, which I hope you do, there is an expanded gallery up here at my Facebook page if you want to see more. Also, please like the page – you gotta like the page, right?.
Now on we go…
maketoys pandinus ruined city

Pandy follows in that fine tradition of being a city bot. Cities are of course large sprawling things, but if you take the ye olde British meaning it refers to the presence of a cathedral. Pandinus, giant Decepticon badge mounted atop a spire, exudes a gothic aura and fits perfectly as a Decepticon temple. Perhaps a place where spin off cult of Decepticons would worship otherwise long forgotten deities.

This isn’t the whole base, in my mind, it’s the kind of grand, foreboding entrance more befitting a hidden underground lair of evil. It screams darkness lives here, but come inside because the next magic item you need to fulfill your mystical quest lies deep inside.

maketoys pandinus city mode
Superficial similarities like the colours tie it to Scorponok’s vintage base mode but Maketoys have crafted something that is wholly their own and fully demonic.

From the tall tail spire to the scorpion legs that line the entrance to ominous maw of the entrance – this is home to some serious darkness. It brims with wickedness, every thing about it from it’s shape to the muted tones of it’s colours infer evil. Huge pistons jutting out from it’s sides add a layer of industrialization over the top of something that looks like Mumm Ra could fly out of at any time.

Unlike the G1 base mode his arms don’t become the towers, that job falls to the tail, instead a boat load of joints in the arms allow you to position them however you wish. Attached to the arms are swiveling dual cannons that have a flip up orange screen and tiny seat for a very small figure to sit in. Not sure what figures can fit in there, I used the Kabaya Powermaster engines….then spent hours scouring the garden to find them after a gust of wind sent them somewhere other than Kansas.

maketoys pandinus base entrance legend of zelda
This mode has arguably the least features but uses the robot modes shields as an entrance ramp in a clever re-use of parts. Sure, the molded steps may be so narrow no bot could actually use them but that just shows how truly evil Pandinus is. “I will never be wheelchair accessible…BWAHAHAHA”

Dark stuff.

Maketoys Pandinus base mode doesn’t have the little lifts, or play features that the original Scorponok did but from a purely aesthetic purpose it is incredible. I’ve always suffered slight disappointment with the “city” modes on Transformers, as non of them offer much more than being a compromise, but Pandinus is easily the strongest base mode I’ve seen purely for the emotions it evokes.

Basically it’s good, yeah.

maketoys zarak scorpion mode

Fairly rare for a Headmaster, the small head of Pandinus (or Pandinus actual…) boasts an alternate mode in addition to becoming a giant robot cranium. Highlighting the creativity of Maketoys, and determination to not be controlled by the lust for “cartoon accuracy”, the Headmaster has a bonus Scorpion alternate mode.

That’s it folks, we can all go home – Maketoys have dropped the worlds most pointy of mic’s.

Don’t go home, carry on reading. Please.

maketoys pandinus zarak
Far from just taking the easy route of just replicating Scorponoks G1 Headmaster, Zarak, robot form, Maketoys tied Pandinus to the malevolence that exudes from his base mode and sculpted on tiny visible ribs.

Or more likely they are supposed to fill in as scorpion legs when he converts to beast mode. A negative does present itself in the form of the clear red plastic tail. It’s too long, and gets in the way of robot mode, but even then it takes on a sinister tone, as a chain that the giant robot body uses to keep not Zarak prisoner.

Maketoys – have you been reading a lot of Stephen King lately?

maketoys headmaster pandinus
If you read my review of Maketoys Cupola you will know I am a huge fan of their Headmasters, and Pandinus somehow manages to top that by crafting a figure that crams in so much more than you expect from a figure this size.

He’s well articulated and sacrificing an ab crunch is worth it when you gain a whole extra mode and one that is quite successful at adding an extra dimension to his role as guardian of this spiteful temple.

Light piped eyes are included and that light piping keeps falling out on me. A little glue could sort it, but it’s a very easy thing to lose as it is about the size of a pin head.

maketoys pandinus scorpion cockpit

Where Pandinus Actual stalks the grounds of the base mode, when converted to giant Scorpion mode he has a comfoy cockpit to sit in as the pilot. A clear orange panel, that later forms the super robot’s chest, closes over the top to give him a large HUD with an equally large targeting reticule in the center.

Transforming Pandinus from base to giant monster scorpion essentially involves just folding the legs over. It’s really that simple.

Okay not really, but mostly.

Maketoys MCB03 Pandinus

Of all the modes, this is the one that comes closest to resembling G1 Scorponok. This is the moment Maketoys allowed themselves to be pulled towards it as a huge nod and a wink, followed by a Moonwalk out of the picture whilst dropping mic’s left right and centre.

Pandinus transforms into a gargantuan robot scorpion beast and it is frickin cool. I could stop the review here and simply conclude with: “it is frickin cool”, but I’ve got a ton of photo’s I want you to see and a stream of consciousness going.

side shot of maketoys pandinus

For a relatively simple transformation, Pandinus scorpion mode takes on a completely different form from the base and doesn’t look like it was ever sat there terrifying unwitting tourists.

The unholy air the base mode gave off is completely absent, replaced with something far more terrifying. All of his appendages look murderous and no part of his surface area isn’t covered in something that doesn’t look like it’s working it’s hardest to cause destruction.

It’s a compact package that is on the verge of bursting with pain. So much of it is pointy and barbed and lives a world away from flat boring areas that are trying to recreate a certain scene from a long forgotten episode of an obscure, badly dubbed TV series.

Maketoys Pandinus scorpion mode front
 The pistons on either side don’t change shape, but in this mode they take on the appearance of a titanic engine powering this beast in the most hardcore and polluting kind of way. It’s like the most metal episode of the Smoggies.

Take a gander at his actual scorpion legs. They retain that creepy vibe they had in base mode, but this time they are the spindly shanks that underpin and move this abominable contraption. It’s this kind of message Pandinus conveys at all times – different parts inspire different feelings but they all come back to unsettling.

Detail cut’s across every surface of the figure, but never offensively. Colour is used brilliantly too. Most of it is decked in purple and green with grey adding a “robotic” quality to stop it looking too Lovecraftian and the gorgeous clear orange plastic on the flipped up robot knee guards look like they are humming with energy or acting as massive eye obliterating spotlights. The way the clear orange plastic is dotted around gives it a living quality that is hard to pin down.

Maybe it’s because they look like glowing eyes? It has mad Zelda boss written all over it.

mt mcb03 pandinus gun attached to tail
We have a reasonable amount of articulation in this mode too.

Giant claws are attached to arms which have have at least 7 points of articulation. Sadly this can become a nuisance as you try and pose the arm and other joints move with a loud comic book style “CRACK-OOOOOM” (or that’s how it sounds in my mind). Maybe I just suffer from a nervous disposition (Hahaha…I don’t) but the loudness of the joints and their strength did scare me a bit.

maketoys pandinus claws
The claws themselves are massive and are independently articulated on *I think* ball joints. They are tight too, but lack ratchets meaning moving them feels much smoother. Combined with the rock solid arm joints they have no trouble holding stuff up.

If this was mine, and I was drunk, I would be piling up stuff to see just how much weight it could hold. My Mrs wouldn’t be happy as it would probably lead to a lot of her stuff breaking.

Think I’m risking my own cool stuff in such a silly game…hahah…nope.

maketoys pandinus decepticon tail badge
The grand patriotic Decepticon headed tail not only has lots of loud, snappy ratchet joints to allow to curl up menacingly – it also contains a slot to hold Pandinus huge rifle for maximum damage.

If the claws, legs, rocket pods and array of dual cannons don’t kill you – nice to know he still has one magnificently destructive trick left up his sleeve. Poor Titan Fort Max only comes equipped with leg cannons,

Hasbro have sent him to his slightly taller doom.

transformers g1 scorponok

What you have, is a fantastic homage to the vintage character, but with all of the modern updating you could ever wish for.

Pandinus beast mode is fantastic and everything great about Scorponk ratcheted up to 93.

maketoys pandinus transformers scorponok
Earlier on I talked about Pandinus Actual (the Headmaster unit) but didn’t mention that he does of course turn into a large bonce for the super robot.

This isn’t quite so straightforward as your usual Headmaster, but only because it involves an extra waist swivel and a need to rotate the head to give Pandinus a lovely clear red pony tail.

He’s been Street Fighter Alpha’d!

transformers masterpiece scorponok


That chain becomes a drag when trying to insert the head into the neck port, constantly getting in the way, and as behind that is slanted, no matter how you move it it tends to slide back down and annoy you.

Ignoring the tail, inserting the head requires you to flip the head forward and then slide it into the helmet. A slightly more involved process, but a more satisfying one. Scorponok is always that Headmaster who has the bulk of his head made up by a helmet and that’s still the case here, with a red visor covering much of the Headmaster’s face detail (which is a shame as it’s a gorgeous face).

Maketoys have taken away the tech feeling of Scorponok’s helmet and given it a nightmarish twist, with more aggressive looking antenna on either side. It’s nice and fits in perfectly with this figures aesthetic, but I kinda miss Scorpy’s cream coloured block of a G1 face.

maketoys pandinus scorponok

Transforming Pandinus to robot mode is again not hard, but some care has to be taken. The pistons on either side of his feet need to unclipped as moving the feet whilst they are attached could cause the clip to snap. Maketoys did throw in a handy reminder about this in the instructions so listen to them – they aren’t joking.

Aside from that it’s back to huge, thunder crack sounding joints and whilst it is a bit more involved than the transformation from base to beast – it’s not much. This is more like unrolling a poster and flattening it out, with the added flourish of rotating the upper torso.

I’ll reiterate that this isn’t difficult, but I did find it a bit unwieldy due to his sheer size.

maketoys pandinus masterpiece scorponok

I mentioned earlier that Pandinus looks like something HP Lovecraft dreamt up, but Cthulhu isn’t coming home from a fight with this guy.

Pandinus is a massive bruiser of a bot who looks like he only wants to mess you up. Scorponok was always portrayed with a keen scientific mind, but also possessing a more savage side to his personality and Pandinus strongly reflects that second point. This is Scorponok after he’s completely given in to the brutality and wishes to revel in violence.

It’s Scorponok on steroids.

maketoys pandinus scorponok

The aesthetic Maketoys have gone for is quite beautiful to behold. At this point they are about as far away from Masterpiece territory as they could possibly be and whoever designed it was patently having the time of their life.

Little flourishes like the Pacific Rim style belly button and the vicious toe claws all suggest someone had an idea and was not going to beholden to what the fandom are demanding right now.

There is so much to take in from it’s shape, to it’s size, to the visual cues from G1 Scorponok, to the wide array of weapons that are attached to him. It’s a feast for the eyes and the imagination. Everything is exaggerated proportion wise. He’s large, not as tall as Generations Metroplex but his size extends outwards – this a very heavy, bulky toy.

It’s easy to forget that this is a super robot being piloted by a much smaller robot, and that is why the large body and tiny head feels like a homage to Ripley in the Power Loader suit.

Even the pistons on the feet play up that connection.

maketoys pandinus claw arm

Articulation is good but has a downside. It’s great, in terms of what you can do, but bad in how tough it can be to do it. Pandinus has dozens of joints to facilitate him having a great range of movement, but his joints are supremely tight and his mass can sometimes get in the way.

If you are buying a toy this size and at this price then chances are you are only going to get him in a good pose for a shelf, and at he can do that perfectly. He looks imposing virtually any way you stand him, but it can be tough to try and get something more dynamic.

pandinus maketoys gun hand

If you ever wondered how Scorponok was typing his bitter scientific tweets to Brian Cox – this is your answer. Maketoys have hidden fully articulated hands within Pandinus massive claws. It again emphasizes the level of thought that has gone into this beyond just trying to fill a gap on your shelf.

Those same hands can also hold the gun which at first glance you could say is styled on the vintage G1 toy, but then your eyes focus and you realise the only similarities are the colours. A removable ammo clip spins in the middle of the gun, and just in case you thought this wasn’t a toy Maketoys hid two spare, compatible ammo crates within the backs of Scorponok’s calves.

Features, features, features.

maketoys mcbo3 pandinus tail

I haven’t yet mentioned that those rocket pods on the shoulders are removable. They act as an extra pair of weapon accessories and can slide on to the T shaped tabs on Pandinus elbow and claws.

One area that Maketoys chose to cut costs was those claws – by giving you two of the same side. At first I thought I had just been unlucky and it was an error, but it looks like it’s the case with all of them. It’s a shame to see that kind of choice on such a premium product that costs so much money.

maketoys pandinus face sculpt

Other than that the only other issue I encountered was the tail sheared off as I was transforming him to robot mode. “Only”, he says.

The ratchet joint locked and just ripped off. Fortunately it’s a clean break and an easy piece to replace, but it scared the life out of me (this isn’t my toy). No one else seems to have reported this as a problem, so I think in my case it was just sheer (badumtish) bad luck and not something any one else is going to run across.

Everything else is masterfully done.

legend of zelda figma link

It’s funny because for a toy this big, there really isn’t a whole lot of paint. It’s applied where it’s needed, to accentuate details, but for the most part it’s coloured plastic which comes in different forms to provide a lot of contrast.

I loved Generations Metroplex but this is a much more functional affair. The base mode is fantastic, the beast mode is also fantastic and the robot mode terrifying. Metroplex suffered from having a decent bot mode and then alt modes that just did a job. Remember that ramp that doesn’t reach the floor?

Here Maketoys have ensured every aspect has been considered and fully realised with an impeccable finish and insanely high quality feel.

maketoys pandinus xbox scorpio

Sometimes a toy captures my imagination so completely and opens a door that is usually reserved for rum. Pandinus set something off inside my mind, where all I could think of were situations and stories for this figure, mainly the base mode. So if you are thinking – “hey! you are being way too positive about this toy”, then that’s why.

There is a slight bitter irony to this love fest in that I will heartbreakingly never own this toy, unless a significant lottery win is in my future (I should maybe buy a ticket). Pandinus huge cost puts it well outside my price range and with Titans Fortress Maximus looming on the horizon, it’s not something I can find space for in my budget even if I did get the abacus out.

Pandinus is something to admire from afar which I suspect that’s going to the case for many people. With it’s high price, and striking looks, it’s not going to be something that’s a must have for many collectors focusing on Masterpiece – it will be something for those with an eye for the offbeat.

*Prays for lottery win*

7 Replies to “Review: Maketoys City Bot Series MCB03 Pandinus”

  1. Great review, loved the pics. Could you just highlight which joint in the tail snapped as something to look out for?

  2. Awesome review and photo-tale! You, sir, have enabled me!

    ….no, not on Pandinus. I can't afford Pandinus. I do want that Link now though. Is it the Figma? Also what does he turn into, I couldn't work it out, talk about zero kibble!

  3. Thank you Neuta!!!!

    Yes it is Figma Link, and he transforms into an angry faced….Figma Link 😉

    It's a wicked little figure, based on the Skyward Sword version…which is just basically Link. Long as he's green and got a little twisty hat he's Link.

    Would kill for a Snes version though!

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