"Studio Series" 86 Kup Toy Review

06/29/22

General Information:
Release Date: March 2021
Price Point: $19.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General Release (Amazon, BigBadToyStore, Entertainment Earth, Target, Walmart
Accessories: Blaster, Energon Goodie Dispenser

Official images and product description in italics below are from Amazon:

  • STUDIO SERIES DELUXE CLASS: Deluxe Class figures are 4.5-inch collectible action figures inspired by iconic movie scenes and designed with specs and details to reflect the Transformers movie universe, now including The Transformers: The Movie!
  • 4.5-INCH SCALE KUP: Figure features vivid, movie-inspired deco, is highly articulated for posability and comes with blaster and Energon canteen accessories
  • BIG SCREEN INSPIRED: Figure scale reflects the character’s size in the world of The Transformers: The Movie. Figure and packaging are inspired by the iconic Sea Squid Showdown scene. Figure comes apart in pieces to recreate the classic battle with the giant robot squid from the movie
  • 2 ICONIC MODES: Figure features classic conversion between robot and Cybertronian truck modes in 21 steps. Perfect for fans looking for a more advanced converting figure. For kids and adults ages 8 and up
  • REMOVABLE BACKDROP: Removable backdrop displays Kup figure in the Sea Squid Showdown scene

This Studio Series 86-02 Deluxe Class The Transformers: The Movie-inspired Kup figure converts from robot to Cybertronian truck mode in 21 steps. Remove backdrop to showcase Kup in the Sea Squid Showdown scene. In the Sea Squid Showdown scene from The Transformers: The Movie, Kup fights for his spark as a giant robot squid tears him apart. Figure can comes apart in pieces; imagine recreating this classic movie moment! Also comes with blaster and Energon canteen accessories.

The 1986 theatrical Transformers film introduced a large cast of new characters. One of them was Kup, a grizzled veteran of the Autobot/Decepticon conflict who loved to tell stories. Pairing him up with the young warrior Hot Rod for most of the movie, the two had some of the most memorable scenes in the film. Kup has appeared in the Generations line before as Sargeant Kup then years later as part of Titans Return. This version however seeks to reflect the character's appearance in the 1986 film.

Packaging:
Kup comes in the standard Studio Series box from years past featuring a black background with light blue and red graphics and letters on top. The vertical Transformers logo sits to the right with the Generations logo above it. Kup himself is behind a window on the box that does have plastic on it (this was before Hasbro's initiative to remove plastic from packaging). Kup's artwork shows him holding his blaster and yelling at someone. The back of the box calls out a twenty one step transformation for the figure. Inside the box is an insert that also serves as a backdrop for Kup. In this case it is a beautiful new piece of art featuring the giant mechanical squid that Kup is attacked by in the movie. It's a beautiful piece of art and a perfectly appropriate choice given what the action figure can do!

Accessories:
Kup includes two accessories:

  • Blaster: This weapon's design is based on the blaster included with the G1 Kup action figure and the one seen in the animation model in the film. It features a pointed barrel, a small magazine on the bottom and an angled piece with an opening on top. The weapon looks great. The weapon has a 5mm peg and a small tab on the other side. Technically a Blast Effect can rest on the barrel but it doesn't actually attach. This weapon is cast in a light teal color with no paint applications.
     
  • Energon Goodie Dispenser: In a key scene Kup attempts to show Hot Rod how to properly greet a group of Sharkticons by using the "Universal Greeting" and offering an Energon Goodie. His pulls out a dispenser and a treat slides out. This accessory reproduces that box complete with an "Energon Goodie" sticking out of it! This piece is clear plastic with green paint on the "box" portion. There is a peg on the bottom for him to hold it, but that is left unpainted. The existence of accessory is kind of amazing. I never thought an official Transformers product would include it, yet here we are!

Robot Mode:
Kup's design in the G1 animation was an interesting one. His form had a lot of curved areas including his rounded shoulders and forearms. That form somehow magically transformed into a somewhat boxy looking "scifi" pickup truck. This hat trick has made creating an actual transforming figure a challenge. This figure's sculpt does not totally nail it, but it comes closer than previous version of the character. This figure has a lot of the key design elements for the character including:

  • Head: The head design comes very close to the animation design but it does not 100% stick the landing. It has his unique helmet design with a dome forming the top of his head in the middle with circles on the sides. His face has the distinct, sharp cheek bones and "age lines" under his eyes, but it is slightly too long so the mouth/jaw area looks a bit off. It comes very close however and I applaud the effort.
  • Torso: Much of Kup's torso is made up of the vehicle mode's front end including a the windshield forming his chest. In an interesting design choice, the area underneath the windshield has all sorts of mechanical looking details instead of the flat, light blue window used in the animation. This does give him more detail, but it moves the figure one step away from "movie accuracy".
  • Arms: Kup's arms are interesting in design because they look almost organic with round shoulders and tube shaped forearms and biceps. The arms are attached to curved areas that stick out from the sides of the torso section, reflecting the look of the animation model. His forearms have rounded "covers" over them that look almost like arm guards. They also have a distinct "L" shape on them just like the animation model.
  • Waist Area: The middle to lower waist area has distinctive "ab" details sculpted into the figure. Under that is a "belt" with a hexagaon shaped "buckle" in the middle.
  • Legs: Kup's thighs are rounded, much like his arms making him look almost human. His lower legs however are more angular and the cumulative effect makes it look like he is wearing armor on his legs. Like the animation model the knee armor points upward and his feet have small shapes on the feet.

Overall the sculpt looks great. Now, that doesn't mean it's perfect. Ideally the torso should be bulkier and the face sculpt definitely needed another pass. However, this comes very close to Kup's animation model and I consider its detailing a step up from the Titans Return version.

Now Kup's colors have always shifted here and there depending on who was animating him. You can read all about it on the TFWiki, but this figure is meant to use the color scheme seen in the 1986 film, so I am using that as reference. Kup is mostly made up of two shades of teal, a darker one and lighter one. Other bits like his chest are translucent blue plastic while smaller parts like the wheels on his legs are black plastic. Paint colors include paint to match the teal colors, red and orange. The mechanical details behind his chest panel appear to be painted silver. Color-wise the designers followed the animation model nicely but he lacks some of the "wear details" seen on the animation model. However, these details do appear on the later Buzzworthy Bumblebee release.

There are twenty points of articulation on this figure. This includes four in each arm and five in each leg. Each fist has a 5mm port, allowing him to hold his accessories. He also has 5mm ports on the bottom of his feet, allowing you to attach him to figures like Weaponizers.

Perhaps the most unique feature of this figure is its ability to come apart. You read that right. In one scene from the 1986 film, Kup is attacked by a giant mechanical squid and parts of him are torn off. Hot Rod repairs him later, but for a short period of time he is missing limbs. In a tip of the hat to that scene, both of Kup's arms and legs can be detached! They pit in and out fairly easily, but they hold tight enough that you can pose the figure out without issue. This functionality is both a bit gruesome but also funny at the same time and I really appreciate the designers including it.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach the accessories and set them aside for now.
  2. Straighten out the arms and legs.
  3. Swing each foot into the underside of the lower legs.
  4. Swing the arms out to the sides (including the panels the shoulders are attached to).
  5. Swing the back pack panels down.
  6. Turn the robot head around.
  7. Swivel the shoulder sections out from the panels they are attached to.
  8. Swing the panels with the wheels on them out from the chest area.
  9. Swing the panels from the backpack out.
  10. Swing the chest section back.
  11. Use the backpack panels to cover up the robot head.
  12. Swing the arms in, lining up the panels connected to the shoulders with the openings on the sides of the backpack.
  13. Move the legs forward and out to the sides to move them of the way temporarily.
  14. On each leg, swing open the lower leg front panels, then swing the legs in so the lower legs are at an angle and then close the panels.
  15. Swing the hinged panel on each lower leg forward, tabbing it into the front wheel wells.
  16. Swing the two middle panels from the lower legs together.
  17. Move the robot arms up and connect the fists to the tabs on the bottom of the middle panels.
  18. There are slots on the top and sides of the lower leg areas that will accommodate the two accessories.

Vehicle Mode:
Kup's vehicle mode is a futuristic/scifi looking pickup truck with a rectangular front section and a truck bed in the back. Many of the details from the animation model are represented here including a row of vertical lines along the top, line details on the front wheel wells and detailing running along the sides of the vehicle. A bit of the vehicle's side section sticks out on the sides that are meant to represent parts of the rear lights. To me, these seem inspired by dramatic designs on cars of the past such as the Ford Thunderbird.

According to the TFWiki, Kup's colors are based off a specific image that actually represented an incorrect fan-coloring of the animation model that has made the rounds online. The darker teal color makes up most of the vehicle with the lighter shade on top and on the wheel wells. Oddly, the more "angry eyes" Autobot symbol from the live action films is used on this figure instead of the G1 Autobot symbol which has a less aggressive appearance. Accurate or not, the vehicle's design and colors make it instantly identifiable as Kup.

There are slots on the back section of the vehicle that allow you to attach both accessories. Be warned if you want to push this vehicle along your desk or floor, the "belt" area is a bit too low and will wind up scraping along whatever surface you roll him on.

Final Thoughts:
Studio Series Kup gets a lot right, and I'm much more forgiving of its shortcomings than I probably should be. It really does blow my mind how far designs like this one have come along in the past decade or so. This Kup figure isn't perfect, but it's great in its own ways. The only thing keeping me from fully recommended it (aside from some of the issues I discuss above) is that a more "show accurate" version came out in the Buzzworthy Bumblebee line and is currently available at Target as I type this, so I lean towards getting that version instead of this one. Either way, it's great to have two Kup figures to choose from! Recommended, but definitely consider the Buzzworthy one instead.

Pros:

  • Good sculpt that includes a lot of Kup's animation details.
  • Good deco (vehicle mode colors aside).
  • The Energon Goodie accessory is brilliant.
  • The ability for the limbs to be taken apart is a fun way to add play value and nod to the 1986 film.
  • Joints are nice and tight (which is important since they are meant to be detached).

Cons:

  • The head sculpt needed one more pass. I think the designers came very close, but they did not nail it.
  • The "belt buckle" scraping on the surface you roll him on is not cool.
  • The vehicle mode colors are not super movie accurate (but honestly I don't mind at all).

Lightbox Gallery
Holding "Legends" Recoil
With "Legends" Cher/Kup
With "Legends" Recoil
With "Legends" Cher/Kup