One thing that anyone who travels regularly to fighting game events and tournaments has to deal with is finding a way to transport their arcade stick. Arcade sticks are substantial pieces of equipment, and finding ways to carry them around is always a priority for players on the go. In response to this, there have been many efforts at providing options for players: both MadCatz and Qanba have their own line of arcade stick bags, and even before then, Evo actually came out with an exclusive Evo Stick Sack some years back.
The latest company to introduce a line of arcade stick bags is Splitframe with their FS Transporter series. Introduced last year, the FS Traveler series differentiates itself from other bags by the fact that each bag is lined with a thick layer of ballistic padding, providing extra protection to any arcade stick contained within.
To give us a chance to test out one of these bags, Splitframe sent us their Street Fighter Psycho Shadaloo Transporter XL.
The Street Fighter Psycho Shadaloo Transporter XL is a pretty large bag. Designed to hold HORI’s Real Arcade PRO Premium VLX line, the bag measures 63 cm long, 32 cm wide, 20 cm across. Part of the reason for this size is the ballistic padding, 5 cm thick on each side (save for the slot for the lever).
This Shadaloo version also features embossed Street Fighter artwork, namely the Shadaloo logo embossed on the main flap and a smaller Street Fighter logo near the bottom. Flipping open the main flap reveals the words “Psycho Crusher” printed out on the protective pad.
The main draw of the Street Fighter Psycho Shadaloo Transporter XL is the padded compartment for carrying a HORI VLX. The compartment itself is made to hold the VLX quite snugly, with the padded main flap slotting into the compartment. The fit can be a bit too snug though–even with a slot, the stick’s lever still ends up pressed to one side. To help alleviate this, the padding in the slot can be removed (it’s attached via velcro), but this does lessen the amount of protection given to it.
We did also try out other sticks, including a MadCatz Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2, older Hori Real Arcade PRO 3, and even a custom built Art Hobbies TEK case, but obviously the bag wasn’t tailored for these.
In addition to the main inner compartment for the arcade stick, the Street Fighter Psycho Shadaloo Transporter XL also has two additional pockets for carrying miscellaneous items–one on the front face of the stick, and one on the side. The pocket in the front is large enough to carry the bag’s extra strap, as well as any miscellaneous items a player might need, including a game on disc if necessary. The pocket on the side is smaller and tighter though. Players can store things like IDs and their passport in it, but not much else. This is somewhat disappointing, considering that the original FS Transporter XL had a larger pocket that could carry a smartphone or music player (with matching headphone port).
As for carrying, the Street Fighter Psycho Shadaloo Transporter XL comes with a detachable shoulder strap allowing it to be carried as a messenger. However, hidden in a compartment in the back of the bag is a set of straps that, when assembled, transform the bag into a proper backpack. The ends of these straps attach to the bag via a set of metal carabiner clips for extra ruggedness.
Aside from the layers of protective padding, one of the unique draws of the FS Transporter line as a whole is the unique side loading system. Unlike similar arcade stick carrying backpacks such as the Qanba Defender that have you load the arcade stick from the top, the FS Transporters have players load their sticks from the side. This actually makes loading and unloading a stick as hefty as the HORI VLX much easier.
This side-loading functionality compliments the bag’s ability to be carried via a single strap on one shoulder, similar to an athletic bag. However, prolonged use this way may lead to some discomfort due to the weight of the stick carried inside. With this in mind, wearing the bag as a backpack makes much more sense for traveling long distances.
The big draw of the FS Transporter line is the protection afforded by the 5 cm of ballistic padding in each bag. While Splitframe gave us no details on what the padding itself was made of, the material is strong enough that the Street Fighter Psycho Shadaloo Transporter XL maintains its shape even without a stick inside it.
As for the amount of protection it offers, while we refrained from doing any destructive testing, we did test it against some light impacts, (including some “love taps” with a metal bat) and it performed fairly well.
There some possible weak points in the bag though. As previously mentioned, the main compartment has a slot for the VLX’s lever. The padding here is substantially thinner than anywhere else (the smaller FS Transporter and Transporter 2 do not have this issue, due to a different design to accommodate the lever). The padding is also thinner in one of the sides, on the opposite end of the bag from the main opening. This means that players need to be wary of impacts from this direction, or worse, dropping the bag if it’s being carried in the messenger configuration.
The Street Fighter Psycho Shadaloo Transporter XL is currently the only arcade stick bag of its kind on the market. No other arcade stick bag can fit HORI’s Real Arcade PRO Premium VLX. The only other bag that could carry the VLX was previous incarnation of the FS Transporter XL, which is no longer in stock as of this writing. For any VLX owners looking for a safe way to carry their baby around, there’s no other option aside from spending $119.98 on one of these.
As a bag for carrying the the HORI Real Arcade PRO Premium VLX, the Street Fighter Psycho Shadaloo Transporter XL currently has no equal. While it does carry a hefty pricetag, the Street Fighter Psycho Shadaloo Transporter XL does, for the most part, live up to Splitframe’s promise of a secure bag to carry arcade sticks. It’s a strong, smartly built bag that we would readily recommend to any VLX owners.
As for players with common sticks such as the MadCatz Tournament Edition 2 and HORI Real Arcade Pro V, the same ballistic padding is also available in the smaller FS Transporter 2, and your needs are likely better served by that one.
- Perfect fit for the HORI Real Arcade PRO Premium VLX.
- Ballistic padding will absorb most everyday impacts.
- Modular design allows it to be carried both as a messenger and a backpack.
- Some areas have thinner padding.
- Smartphone/music player pocket from the original FS Transporter is gone.
- VLX-centric design means that other arcade sticks wont fit as well inside it.