TSS REVIEW: First4Figures Tornado Exclusive Edition Diorama

Now… the last time I wrote about a First4Figures statue in detail was back in 2013, and it wasn’t exactly a happy experience, my statue along with several others had a number of problems, mysterious black marks, badly manufactured joints to name but a few. This, combined with problems with a number of previous statues finally broke the camels back. So I cancelled all my outstanding orders for statues with them, since then I have not bought another F4F product, that rule was in place for me until I saw evidence that they were taking their quality control seriously.

And oh boy, how they have gone above my expectations.

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First of all I have to be a bit careful with this, but I think it should be mentioned because it shows that this company actually does care about it’s customers and it’s products, shortly after my Tails statue review, I found out that my review along with a number of complaints posted on their forums had been read by someone high up F4F chain of command, and an investigation had started into their production lines, a week later I was told they had identified how the black marks had entered the process and eliminated that from happening in future statues.

I think someone at F4F, I don’t know who, has also noted issues people have had with connecting the different parts of the statue together, I’m not sure when this started to be a thing, but a major difference which I’ll get onto later is that the construction method for the Tornado is radically different to any statue prior to 2013 (last date I got one).

Long and short of it, F4F’s new construction is light years ahead of what they were previously doing.

So let’s get on with it shall we?

The Box

Ah the packaging, you know what I just realised, nobody knows what the packaging for the box will look like until the first one is delivered, now, F4F usually make really really cool looking boxes for their statues, unfortunately though… this one… isn’t… as good. It’s not bad, but… it’s not as good. Well… let me show you what I think is really cool about it and then I’ll explain why I don’t think the packaging as good, and also the reason why I don’t think it’s F4F’s fault.

These statues arrive in an outer heavy duty cardboard box, and when you open the top, this is what you see.

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That is pretty damn cool! Just everything, the colour scheme, the huge logo, everything, it’s great, it’s almost like it’s yelling “I’M SONIC THE HEDGEHOG!”

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The problem however comes from the overall package design, it’s just not as cool as previous statues… and there’s a reason for this. That reason is Sega. Sega have these ‘design books’ which it seems that every licensor of Sonic must now follow, including F4F, and sadly, it’s not that great, certainly not for a F4F statue, I really hope F4F can get out of this in some way and return to their own packaging designs.

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The main issue I have, something as amazing and spectacular as a F4F statue, shouldn’t be packaged with the same design as a Sonic Ice Cube Tray using the same packaging design rules. It just makes it seem less special.

But anyway, let’s talk about the main attraction.

The Statue

Or is it diorama? Whatever you like to call it, this is… one of the most ambitious if not visually impressive pieces of Sonic merch of all time. Yes some collectors will say ‘nah it’s the crystal cube,’ or ‘nah that Sega World SnowGlobe’ but… in terms of the scale of the this thing, and the high end nature of it, it’s got to be up there.

Let’s talk about the size of this statue, it’s huge! I don’t know the exact dimensions, nor do I wish to try and measure them, so here is the statue next to a standard DVD case to get an idea.

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Yeah, it’s that big! Not sure if it’s the largest one they’ve done in the Sonic line, but it’s certainly the largest Sonic statue that I currently own, going to have to shift a lot of stuff about in order to have it on display.

The Base

Statue bases can generate a lot of discussion amongst certain fandoms, the Sonic one is no different, this base is, really different to any other in the Sonic line, previously, bases have been more flat with the figure standing on it, but this one is uneven to give the impression of fluffy clouds.

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Do I like it? Yes… I think I do. I have to be honest, I wasn’t crazy about it when I saw the renders, but in real life I do like it. I’m not sure how else they could do the base, but it’s pretty good.

The only thing I’m not much of a fan of is the black colouring used for the very bottom of the base, it looks a bit out of place, maybe white or a light blue colour would have been better?

The Tornado

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Now this is a thing of beauty and amazingly, if you don’t include the recently released Sonic Boom figure, F4F are the first company to ever release a tornado product, and what a standard to set.

The plane has been expertly crafted, if there are mistakes from the original to this design, I’ve not noticed them, it also has good weight to it as well, it feels strong and durable, whilst I’ve no intention of dropping it, it feels stronger than other statues that I own.

The only slight downside to it is that there isn’t any detail in the cockpit other than the handles which Tails holds onto, no screen showing speed or altitude, just an empty void into the innards of the statue. But otherwise, the detail is high, there’s even bolts on the metal to indicate the different parts of the tornado itself.

Sonic & Tails

Let’s start with Tails, Tails has a lot of detail on him, even his hands which are buried inside the tornado have some evidence of detail on them, but sadly, and this might only affect tall people, depending on the height you have the figure, you can barely see tails in there due to the wings of the plane.

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However that said, a lot of care and attention went into making him, the quality was not lost on this one.

Now for Sonic… and… what can I say, this figure is astonishing. I’m calling it a figure because… you can take him off the statue! Yup, he’s not stuck on there, you can remove him, and it’s very easy to do so. More on this later.

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But if you like, you can take Sonic off the statue and have him posed on his own, hell I bet some creative peoples could make their own small scene and place this figure in it. Just as I write this I’ve just realised, you can take Sonic off and just have it as Tails in the tornado… oh my! You could even use some other action figures and place them in a way so it looks like Tails is flying up to catch Sonic as he falls from the Death Egg in Sonic 2.

Heck! Get one of the old F4F Knuckles figures and put him on there in place of Sonic! All you need to do is place a small magnet on the base and anything could go there.

But I digress, the Sonic figure is wonderful, it’s just further evidence that we really need a middle ground between figures like Tomy and the high end statues, something of an action figure like size but with the high quality of F4F, someone, please!

This Is Probably The Most Important Feature of The Statue

Ok, remember how I mentioned at the start that past statues have had badly manufactured joints? On one statue I own, I had to use sandpaper to ensure a joint would fit, I know others have done the same, another statue I have is such a tight fit I have been unable to take it apart, which is hell for trying to move and store it.

This statue not only doesn’t have any of those problems, the manner in which some pieces are held together for me ranks this as being one of the most impressive statues they have done in terms of construction and easy of assembly alone. That being the use of powerful magnets.

I mentioned briefly that Sonic is held in place by a magnet, yes there is a joint to secure him, but he’s firmly held by a very powerful magnet, if you look in the video you can see evidence of this.

The magnet means pieces of the statue are held very securely and can be easily assembled as well as dissembled by the owner without jeopardising the structural integrity of the statue or a risk of pieces coming apart.

Yes there are still the old joints and pins which connect and hold the statue together, they went together with no problem at all. This statue was a vast improvement over all the others I own in terms of assembly.

Oh and if you’re worried that the magnets will lose their power over time? The half life of a modern day magnet is around 700 years, I think you’ll be fine unless the Klingons attack and they disrupt the magnetic field surrounding the statues warp core.

I really hope that this construction method continues in future statues, it makes assembly so much easier than previous.

The Statue Has a Few Party Tricks…

Forget the lighting effects, I’ll talk about those in a moment, the statue has a few other party tricks which you can do with it.

First of all as already mentioned, you can remove Sonic and he can stand very well on his own accord, effectively giving you a smaller mini figure.

But that’s not all, the mechanism which holds the tornado allows you to change it’s angle, meaning you can position it so that the plane is in a climb, or that it’s flying level with the clouds. Whilst I’ve not tried it, I think it may also be possible to also change the pitch of the plane so it looks like it’s turning too.

As far as I’m aware, this is also available on the standard versions of the statue, it’s a great little extra which can add so much to people who want to position it in a specific way.

The Lighting Effects

Now, if you got the exclusive version of the statue, as with other exclusive statues, there are some lighting effects… and… it’s not that great, in fact the sad thing is it’s probably one of the weakest lighting effects in any F4F statue to date.

It’s also strange, you see, the box and promotional images show that the lighting effects should be very different compared to what we got, take a look at this image.

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See how it’s a bright yellow flame? Well… here is what colour it really is.

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Solid red.

And that’s it, that’s the intensity of the light, that’s the colour of the light, it doesn’t change at all, it doesn’t change to orange or yellow, nor does the intensity of the light alter to give the impression of fire.

This is really odd, previous statues have had lighting which has both changed in colour and had both pulse and spark effects to give the impression of sparks and flames. Yet this is a solid red light. It doesn’t look right at all, even in the game the flame pulses on and off rapidly, it’s different colours like a flame.

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Even in low level light or with zero light, the lighting effect doesn’t work very well at all, it’s a solid red light which doesn’t help illuminate the statue or the base in any way, well anyway which makes it look good sadly.

It’s the biggest disappointment of the statue, yet for the exclusive version it was the main selling point, and it’s also really strange and somewhat misleading that the box and promotional photos show a more natural looking flame effect.

You might be thinking ‘well those images were taken months ago’ yeah so what? You’re still claiming it’s that colour with no disclaimer. But even if you used the word ‘concept’ as an excuse, that doesn’t explain why it’s yellow on several of the box images including the main one (see the earlier box pic).

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Then in another instance almost a natural flame colour on the packaging.

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But the reality is this!

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A solid red light, with absolutely no way to change it.

I know some people won’t care, or will see it as being a minor thing, this is the main selling point of the exclusive edition and I have to say, it is very misleading to show it as being one thing and then release it completely different. Furthermore, it’s not even true to the original which game which showed a natural flame.

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It might seem like I’m being overtly harsh with this complaint, but commanding a $330 price tag + shipping, this special effect feels like it was an afterthought thrown in just to justify charging extra. instead of an accurate re-creation.

Edit: Just before going to press with this, I placed the statue in a corner of a room which had white walls and turned the light on. The effect was far better than doing it in the middle of a table or against a single wall. However this is because the light is reflecting off the walls onto the statue.

It’s still a solid red colour, but because the light spill hits two walls and reflects back on the statue it does light it up better. So you can with some effort get a better effect, but the demand is on your to do that.

Overall

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The statue is wonderful, it’s one of the best pieces of merch to date and one of F4F’s best pieces to date. I love the fact it’s easier to construct and disassemble and the detail is incredible.

Sadly though if you got the exclusive version, the fire effect is not as advertised and feels like it was just slapped in as a last moment afterthought instead of trying to re-create what a flame actually looks like.

So despite ending on a slightly negative tone, I have gone from ‘I will never order another statue’ to ‘I can’t wait to see what they’ll release next’ F4F really have taken criticisms to heart and appear to have radically improved their products as a result and that should be fully applauded.

As for availability, at the time of writing, any new orders go on a waiting list in the EU, however other regions might have a chance to snag one. So if you happen to find one, you’re very lucky.

You’ll Love:
+ Quality is very high
+ Detail is very high
+ Posing/customising the statue to your liking.
+ Construction quality and easy of assembly is light years ahead of previous statues.

You’ll Say… “Urm… Ahhh… I… Ahhhh”:
=/ It’s quite big, you may need to make A LOT of space for it.

You’ll Hate:
– Some will dislike the box it came in <— send complaints to Sega for that one.
– The lighting effect is not as advertised and really wasn’t worth the extra expense.

So did you get one? What do you think? Want to get one? Let us know in the comments.

Also check out the video for a closer look at, you should get a better idea of what the lighting effect is like as well as how the magnetic construction works.

18 Comments

  1. I got this statue. It is very nice, and I proudly have it on my coffee table… but I’ll agree that the box sucks. However, that’s irrelevant, as it’s away in storage. The statue is the display piece, and it’s sick. I really dig the idea with the magnets.

    I’m not bothered by the flame light so much, but I’m honestly shocked they didn’t give it a “flicker” mode like with Shadow’s jets. That would have made the most sense.

    It’s a must-own for anyone who grew up playing the old games. For me, it’s one of the most important elements from Sonic 2’s climax (my first video game), and it really is a piece of my childhood. It’s nice to recall when Sonic made me really feel something… …hopefully it does that again some time in the future.

    1. How much did this figure cost? With glowing reviews like this, I might consider getting it if it doesn’t cost too much.

    1. dude they are trying so hard not to screw up but hey look on the bright side at least we got details for the next sonic game this year but we don’t know if the 25th anniversary game might be the only sonic game this year perhaps i don’t judge them for there bad habits since sonic 06.

  2. Is this the “better” idea that your 25th anniversary figure design was rejected in favor of?

    1. Nope. This has been in the works for well over a year. The 25th statue is still MIA presumed scared and hungry.

  3. I would contend the crystal cube is still a cooler piece of merch, but this looks to be an easy second place. Wish I had enough cash to justify getting it.

  4. I preordered the Regular edition the second it was announced along with the Exclusive Modern Super Sonic, but unfortunately had to cancel them both because I basically have a little over the total cost of both statues in my bank right now haha. It’s hard to have foresight with money sometimes.
    Regardless, I’ve been very excited to see peoples’ photos of the Tornado and it seems like everyone is loving it! Looks like a really awesome piece to have.

  5. Just opened my exclusive edition and it’s broken 🙁 gotta wait to find out if they will fix it or not. They offered me a $25 refund if I didn’t want to wait but given how much this cost me I don’t think $25 is really wise to accept.

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