MMC Bovis – Elbow Joint Flaw and Overall Quality

UPDATE – MMC will be sending replacement parts for Bovis and Fortis with Talon and Tigris.

Mastermind Creations recently released the first of their Feral Cons, a bull robot called Bovis.

Bovis has a flaw in right arm’s upper elbow joint, where the part should have been mirrored from the left arm, but was not. There is a tiny tab on one of the teeth that is designed to keep the arm from moving backward, and because that part wasn’t mirrored it was assembled with that tab on wrong side.

You bend the elbow forward and that tab causes the gears to get smooshed.

If you’re even halfway interested in MMC’s Feral Cons, you’ve probably heard about that already. Officially, MMC has said that it’s just a cosmetic issue and that it doesn’t really affect anything. Fan reactions range from “Oh, okay.” to “RAGE! EXPLETIVE! I HATE YOU NOW MMC!”

That last one is paraphrased, of course.

But what’s the truth? I think it lies somewhere in between. This post discusses what I think about it, how it can be fixed, and what I have to say about the quality of MMC Bovis.

How much of a problem is it?

First of all, lets talk about that truth I mentioned, and how it’s somewhere in the middle of all those statements about how much the ‘smooshed’ joint affects it.

MMC says it’s cosmetic, and that it doesn’t really affect anything. They say it amounts to a ‘scratch.’

That’s not exactly true.

There is visible damage to the joint. There is a decrease in the joints tightness.

How much of one? Very slightly. A smidge. A tad. A tiny bit. Lots of subjective words can be used to describe the minute loss of quality in the tightness of the joint.

And it’s that subjective part where it gets a bit sticky.

Some people are going to say, “Oh, okay.” and not be bothered by it, but some people are going to be upset that their expensive tiny plastic giant robot isn’t perfect.

Sure, the “RAGE! EXPLETIVE! I HATE YOU NOW MMC!” people are over reacting and acting like petulant children, but the point they’re trying to scream has some truth to it.

MMC dealt with this by trying to smooth feathers and say it doesn’t really effect the elbow much (and it doesn’t), and they even offered free replacements for those that were really bothered by it.

Those free replacements were quickly depleted. I don’t think MMC was expecting that many people to take them up on the offer, since it was aimed at those who were really bothered by it. However, that’s also expecting every other collector to not say, “Hey, those people are getting it, so why not me?”

I can’t blame them much for that. They paid for it just the same as the other people.

Now MMC is only doing replacements for ones that are genuinely in need of a replacement. Ones where the arm doesn’t even move, or the joint is floppy. And really, those are probably just your average QC issue that happen on mass market products, regardless of any tab on the front of the fake ratchet joint.

Could MMC have handled this better? Maybe. People have suggested that they just include the replacement part along with another MMC Feral Con, like TFC did with Hercules before they realized they could never do that again and people would still buy their products. MMC actually is including a replacement part for Bovis in the next shipment with Fortis, but it’s for a ‘butt crack’ issue that’s not even really an issue, and certainly not as widespread as what’s going on with the elbow.

And they might even still do that. MMC recently responded that discussions are taking place regarding replacement parts. They also say that’s no guarantee that they’ll do it.

And you know what? If they don’t send replacement parts, that’s fine by me.

I’m giving all sides of this issue a fair shake, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t picked a side. The elbow issue doesn’t bother me. Even before I fixed it, I didn’t care.

That’s because I didn’t even notice it until it was pointed out.

Honestly. It was a real, “Huh?” moment, where I had to closely look at it just to see what was going on. One side was very slightly less tight than the other, with that side being a smooth swivel and the other side being a fake click.

It’s a small flaw in a huge pile of win.

 

What is a faux ratchet joint?

Whereas a true ratchet will have a spring to ease and apply pressure, this kind of of joint is just a plastic tab rubbing over plastic teeth on a cylindrical gear with nothing to relieve the pressure as it goes over each tooth. It gets the same effect overall, but it’s not as smooth. Compare Bovis’s hips with his elbows and you’ll see the difference.

All faux ratchet joints will wear a bit eventually, depending on plastic quality and how much they’re used. That doesn’t mean the joint will get useless, it just means it gets closer to a standard swivel. The worn plastic will still provide friction, it’ll just fake click less.

I’ve even shaved down faux ratchets before just to increase articulation on ones where the positions are too spread out and awkward. Most of the time, I’d prefer for the joint to be an actual ratchet or just a hinge joint.

That doesn’t make the joints bad, or even bad design. Sometimes there’s not enough room in the design to have the extra part with the spring that’s needed on a true ratchet.

A quick glance at Bovis’s elbows show’s that’s probably the case, as there’s just not a lot of extra room in there. Good design knows when to be minimal, and Bovis has plenty of good design.

 

How to fix the elbow issue if you haven’t opened Bovis\Fortis.

Since Fortis is a remold of Bovis and the issue wasn’t found until after the factory was done making Fortis, it will have the same elbow issue as Bovis. I hadn’t mentioned it until here, because this is where it’s most relevant.

Fortis hasn’t quite arrived at North American and European retailers just yet, so most people will be able to fix the problem before the elbow on their Fortis is even damaged.

So how do you fix it?

Peaugh’s post over on TFW shows exactly what the problem is and even talks about how to fix it. You either have to snip off that plastic tab, or take out the pin and reverse the part.

Watch Peaugh’s review of Fortis on youtube to see him talk more about the problem and how to fix it.

Before Peaugh posted that, David Hingtgen started a thread where he posted a different fix for the issue, which involves lubing the joint and sanding the tab. While it’s good to see someone putting together a guide and helping fans like that, I don’t recommend those methods for fixing this. They could be an effective fix, but that lube is pricy and sanding is extremely variable. Different people can sand different amounts, and some could even make the elbow joint worse.

I’m linking to Peaugh’s post because I think it correctly identified the actual problem and the fix is much, much easier. A tab to be trimmed isn’t variable, and neither is taking the pin out to turn the part around.

Also, who wants to buy expensive lube for a tiny plastic giant robot?

Unless that robot is Classics Astrotrain, of course.

 

How to fix the elbow on MMC Bovis\Fortis if already damaged.

That same alternate fix on TFW talks about how if the elbow joint on MMC Bovis has already been damaged, you can just take a sharp blade and scrape away the smooshed plastic.

DO NOT DO THAT.

For some reason, even MMC has suggested doing that. It’s an attempt to restore some of the ‘fake click’ to the movement, but what you’re actually doing is decreasing the surface area for that tab to have friction against.

So what should you do?

Trimming off that little tab isn’t going to do anything if it’s already damaged, but Peaugh’s other suggestion will still work. Take the pin out, turn that upper part around so the ‘open side’ is facing the outer side of the arm, then put the pin back in. That puts the undamaged gears toward the front of the arm, and it restores the faux ratchet for the normal range of movement. He goes over the details in both the previously mentioned TFW post and his youtube review of Fortis, and I recommend taking a look at both.

If you’re still not quite sure about what to do for that, take a look at Daim Choc’s post showing pictures of Peaugh’s fix.

I did this for my Bovis, and it works great. There’s not that much difference, but there is a difference. It’s now just as tight as the other arm is, at least in the useable range of the elbow.

 

HOW TO GET THE PIN OUT OF THE ELBOW ON BOVIS?

Dealing with pin hinges is annoying. You can use another pin or a nail and hammer it out, you can heat the pin up with a soldering iron and then push it out, or various other ways that risk damaging plastic.

Yeah. If the pin slips or if you heat it up too much, you can damage the plastic. You can also stress the plastic if you’re hammering away at the pin too hard with a hammer.

HOWEVER!

I’ve actually come up with a new way to take care of smooth pin joints, and it worked great for both Bovis and Fortis.

Here’s the link! Custom Mod Basics – Pushing Smooth Pins

 

How is the quality on MMC Bovis?

I’d like to think that most people aren’t too upset about the elbow issue, but there are some people that haven’t opened their Bovis yet and are genuinely worried. They see a bunch of very loud people on MMC’s Facebook page and they start to worry that the Bovis they haven’t opened is going to fall apart right out of the packaging.

I don’t care about G1 Tantrum, and MMC Bovis was the Feral Con I was least looking forward to. This is also my first MMC product, as I didn’t care about most of their previous bots.

So, I can give a reasonable and unbiased opinion on this.

Ready?

MMC BOVIS IS ONE OF THE BEST QUALITY TRANSFORMING ROBOTS IN MY COLLECTION.

That’s in all caps so you know I’m serious. Or is that yelling? No, no, this time it’s for being serious.

The only TF in my collection that’s a higher quality than MMC Bovis is TRU MP10.  And Bovis is a really close second. The plastic quality, the heft, the colors, the design, all are great. I may have other TFs with more intricate transformations, but Bovis does exactly what it needs to do for the transformation and even more, in that things lock into place in both modes.

Seriously. It’s one of the best tiny plastic giant robots that I own.

And I don’t have a shabby collection, either. MMC Bovis came from BBTS in the same box as MP Prowl, and while Prowl is very cool, Bovis made him look flimsy.

It’s not a common thing for a hefty, chunky bot to also look and be as agile and poseable as Bovis. Even in alt mode, where it’s basically a big chunk of bovine, I could still get it into a dynamic action pose charging into Prowl. There is a tactile feeling of fun from just picking it up, that it should be posed and transformed instead of just exiled as the leg of a combiner on a shelf.

Am I an MMC fanboy after owning just one of their robots and being this impressed with it?

Maybe. But I’m being honest about all this.

And hopefully, dear readers, you know me enough to trust me on that. If you’re going to buy a set of third party Predacons and are on the fence about the MMC Feral Cons, buy Bovis. Just one, just to see if you like it.

If you don’t like it, you can return it or sell it. But I don’t think you’ll want to. :)

 

So, dear readers, what’s your opinion on MMC Bovis’s elbow problem? Should they not have let the mold play so much tennis during design?

Leave me a comment and let me know! And don’t forget, you can share this post with your favorite big robotic bulls using the links below!

~Matt Booker

4 thoughts on “MMC Bovis – Elbow Joint Flaw and Overall Quality

  1. So I got Bovis for Christmas, and he’s a heck of a bot.

    However, I can’t figure out the arm thing. I don’t even see the block on mine’s right arm. I can see a little… something around where I think it would be, but it looks like somebody already cut down the block, and the arm seems to move fine.

    Is MMC taking some kind of early corrective action? Did I get one that was returned to BBTS? I don’t know, but his arm seems to work fine, so I also don’t really care.

    As you say, though, he’s an impressive toy. Very hefty and well made. My one complaint is that he isn’t very good at holding his accessories. I can, with time and finesse, get him to hold his pistols, but the knives seem to be a lost cause.

    That aside, I agree that he’s a big fun robot with good articulation and a nice, and actually reasonably well articulated, altmode. Which puts me in a pickle, because now I do kind want to get the rest of these guys. But if I do, I’m honestly not sur how I’d display them. I mean, certainly I’d put together Feral Rex or whatever they’re calling Predaking, but it’s hard to say that he’d be better than the five individual robots. Because Bovis is definitely a commanding presence on the shelf all by himself.

  2. I’m going to have mine displayed in bot mode most of the time, and sometimes Feral Rex. They’re definitely worth getting, and definitely not something to buy for just one mode. :)

    MMC isn’t doing anything about the arm other than maybe sending out a replacement part with another Feral Con later on.

    I would recommend flipping the joint. It’s pretty easy to do, especially if you use my method for pushing smooth pins.

    ~Matt Booker

  3. I never really noticed the problem on my Bovis until I got Fortis, and even then I had to look kind of closely to see that the joint is slightly mushed. But I don’t really care, as it’s not like Bovis has any heavy lifting to do other than the big cannons/foot plate.

    Fortis had it worse, as the elbow wouldn’t bend forward at all. But a careful pass or two with one blade of a pair of scissors took care of it. Fortis though feels quite a bit sturdier than Bovis though in his joints, though his connecter doesn’t feel like I’m about to break something on myself when I go to flip it out thankfully. I’ve been trying to file Bovis’ down just a bit to make it a bit easier to get out, since now I know it doesn’t need to be so tight.

  4. The combiner joints on both of mine are fine, but if the joint on your Bovis is tight enough it feels like it might break, contact MMC and see if they can help you out.

    As for the other joints, my Fortis does feel a bit tighter as well. Not that Bovis was bad at all, but things like the feet are a tighter.

    ~Matt Booker

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