KFC Night Stalker

        For a long time, I'd been seeing a great deal of praise for a number of "third-party Transformers" (read: not official).  These aren't knock-offs, not bootlegs, but real original Transforming robots that just don't happen to fall under Takara's or Hasbro's license.  They've gone from a bit of "underground secrecy" to actually being just as available to collectors as any official releases.  (Which has been noticed; though instead of persecution, Hasbro and Takara seem to be clearing the way for collaborations.  Whether or not those companies with enough resources to already be making third-party toys will agree to "join forces" remains to be seen, but it's quite an awesome thing for designers who lack the funds to put their designs into production themselves.)
        Night Stalker happens to be a release from KFC, or Keith's Fantasy Club.  I've obviously had my eyes set on him for a couple of years now, never quite taking the plunge even though I'd seen him stealing selling out at various retailers.  Until I happened to see him on massive sale for $10.  I had to.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

        Even the box impressed me.  I mean, for an independent operation, this is amazing quality.  And awesome art, by the way.

        Back of the box.  Just awesome, showing how much work went into the packaging alone.  Plus, I love this write-up so much.  I think I need to keep the box.

        And what's that thing taped to the side?  Well that was my question, too.  Don't worry, all will be revealed.

        To the unboxing!  And wow is this an impressive spread: actual toy, case, file card, instructions, and those things taped to the outside would seem to be guns!  Again, more on that later.
        The packaging itself is... a dream.  Better than most official Transformers I've opened.  I mean, just look at that.  Granted, it's kind of a blocky design which doesn't need to be protected from shifting or damage as much as a more complicated figure, but still.

        Oh, and as for that file card.  He ain't fast, but he'll fuck your shit up some.

        Let's finally get to the damn figure!  And dude, awesome.  It looks very simple and very not simple at the same time, with a bunch of moving bits.

        It's also a bit thicker than the standard official cassettes, allowing for more moving parts and more stability.

        As for those taped-on guns!  I'm going to assume it was because the parts that came boxed with the figure (on the left) are... kind of fused together.  I did manage to finally pry them open to look like the new ones (on the right), but it took a specialized tool and a worrying amount of pressure.  Still, replacement guns, awesome.

        The transformation!  Full disclosure: the guns are supposed to be further forward, but I felt they were a little "in the way", so.  Now they're not.
        I am impressed, I have to admit.  The instructions are clear and simple, the joints all work smoothly, everything fits together tightly, and he just looks awesome.  If a little pissed off.  And look, wings.

        I hadn't really expected the ability to open his mouth because it's so insanely tiny, but even this little detail is above and beyond.  I am very happy about this awesome guy.  The plastic definitely isn't cheap, and you can see all of the articulated parts of his legs.  Well-designed, well-executed, and extremely fun.  I definitely hope to be able to invest in more third-party Transformers in the future.

     But for now, I think I'm content with this small expansion to "the family".