Back when I collected old-school Transformers, one of my favorite sublines were the Pretenders. The Decepticons, especially, were a collection of weird-looking monster shells that hid small, often fairly simple, transforming robot figures inside.
The indie toy company Play With This Too, staffed by a collection of former Mattel and Hasbro talent, takes that concept and flips it around, offering Lost Protectors: finely-detailed, interchangeable monster figures that come with robot companions that break down to become armor and weapons. With Aaron Archer and Simon Furman on the staff, former Transformers lead designer and lore creator, respectively, the initial impression was that these were third-party Transformers homages in indie-line clothing.
And while the shrewd G1 collector might spy some nostalgic paint decos, it becomes clear while perusing the Kickstarter page that the focus isn’t on creating a throwback toy line. Lost Protectors is unique and fun. Rik Alvarez, Chief Executive Manager, says that the team is really proud of the monster figures in the line. It was something that they didn’t get to work on while creating concepts for Transformers or G.I. Joe.
PWTT made the financially sound decision to use a single figure-type (or buck) and then customize characters via armor, head, and deco options. As a result, the interchangeability of the figures is much more extensive than anything you’ll find on your retail toy shelf. The heads, limbs, and torsos can be swapped out with other figures, and all the accessories are connected via industry-standard 5mm pegs.
To capitalize on this, several of the Kickstarter stretch goals are what PWTT calls “Head Shots.” These are sets of three heads, designed by internal and guest artists, ranging from the monstrous to the comparatively mundane (though humans in mech armor are still cool, though). Incidentally, the Head Shots are the only place you’ll find female options. While there was talk early on to make a separate female buck, Alvarez said that female figures would instead be created with a combination of new heads and armor. Personally, I think it’s cool to have hefty female figures. I start to worry about the messages being sent when the only female action figures my daughter has to play with all look like runway models.
And hefty these figures are! In the six-inch scale, they remind me a lot of the He-Man toys from the 2000 Four Horsemen reboot. There are some fun accessories planned for the Kickstarter campaign (beyond new, more human, characters). Scepters and stands are unlockable stretch goals, sporting ball joints to display those extra heads you collect. These will be offered in Kickstarter-only decos that will differ from the retail release.
The only downside is all that toy is going to cost you. $55 gets you a single figure, while the more expensive reward levels drop that to $50 per figure. But you’ll need to make sure you save some of your toy budget for the Head Shots, Scepters, and Head Stands, available as purchasable add-ons at the end of the campaign. More information can be found on the Play With This Too – Lost Protectors Kickstarter page.