Transformers: Masterpiece Prowl (MP-17) by Takara, Part 1

I’m prefacing today’s little ditty with story time, so get your milky babas and blankys, kids. Once upon a time, yours truly pre-ordered Masterpiece Lambor. It arrived; I opened it, and was confronted with a paint job so bad that even if it were a $15 Hasbro Deluxe, I probably would have taken it back to the store. Lambor didn’t even make it to the review table on FFZ, because I just wanted to wash my hands of him. I was pissed that I spent so much money on him and I wanted him out of my life. So I sold him and had him shipped out the very next day. When the Masterpiece Datsuns went up, I pre-ordered them, hoping that Takara would have gotten their shit together with the QC. Then in-hand photos of Prowl turned up with melted glue all over the front bumper, and horrible paint on the roof. I cancelled the pre-order. But those pictures kept tempting me. The design of the figure still looked all but perfect. And when he finally showed up In Stock at the retailers, I lost all my resolve, rolled the dice, and bought him anyway. Was it a worthy gamble? Let’s find out…

There can be no doubt, Prowl has always been my favorite Autobot toy, most likely because he was also my first. I got him for what was probably my 12th birthday along with Optimus Prime and Thundercracker. While Prowl wasn’t exactly the most developed character in the Sunbow cartoon, when I played with my Transformers, I always used him as Prime’s Executive Officer. He was Prime’s go-to robot. If you needed to talk to Prime, you better damn well have cleared it with Prowl first. And he was always the first to throw himself in front of a fusion blast meant for the big guy. What I’m telling you, folks, is that Prowl was legit and when he wasn’t safeguarding Autobot security, he was off having a foursome with Elita-1, Chromia, and Arcee. He was just that cool. Since this is the first time I’m checking out Takara’s MP line on FFZ, I’m going to start today with the packaging and the alt mode, and tomorrow we’ll check out the transformation and the robot mode.

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Prowl comes in a fully enclosed box, which is something I appreciate in my higher end collectibles. Window boxes are fine for something I’m going to buy for $20 and toss the packaging, but Prowl’s box is a nice quality and I’ll definitely be hanging onto it should I ever need it for storage. The front has a great photo of Prowl in both modes and points out that he has been designated MP-17 and that he is the Autobots’ Military Strategist. It also points out that he transforms into a Nissan Fairlady 280Z-T. It is an officially licensed Nissan product and you get a little G1 style Transformers logo. The deco here walks a fine line between being serviceable and attractive. I would have preferred something more like the G1 packages with the red grid pattern and all that, but there’s nothing wrong with the presentation here either.

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The back of the package features a whole lot of text that I can’t read. It also shows more pictures of Prowl in his modes, a shot of everything you get inside the box, and some pictures of Prowl alongside MP Prime and driving out of MP Prime’s trailer. I’m still not happy with the scaling between Prowl and Prime. I think Prowl should be closer to Prime’s shoulders, but considering that I don’t own MP-10, that’s not a big deal for me. And as we’ll see in a few moments, I’m actually very pleased with Prowl’s size as a stand-alone piece.

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Open iup the box and you pull out a clear plastic tray with Prowl in his police car mode nestled in the middle of the trays. He is placed beside his weapon and you also get a baggie with a folded instruction sheet and a color profile card. No, there’s not a lot of extras or fanfare here, and that may disappoint some. Me? I’m cool with the presentation letting the toy speak for itself.

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And this toy does a great job of that!  Sure, a lot of people have been upset with the new Masterpiece scale, but I have to say that I think Prowl’s alt mode is the perfect size. The car holds together in a very solid fashion, with everything pegging in securely, and rolls along on its wheels quite nicely. It certainly feels closer to a Voyager than a Deluxe to me, and I’m happy to see that it scales very nicely with the recent Generations Triple Changers and even my Fansproject Function figures. Anything bigger than this and I think the toy would have become cumbersome and not nearly as solid.

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However, like the practical packaging, some collectors may take issue with other perceived cuts in the toy. The tires, for example aren’t rubber, they are plastic. In fact, everything on Prowl is plastic. No diecast. Frankly, I’m ok with that. I’m not of the belief that gratuitous use of diecast improves a toy. You only need look at the original top-heavy Masterpiece Prime to realize that’s not always the case. Yes, rubber would have been cool, but the plastic wheels look fine and I don’t have to worry about the rubber rotting away like it did with many of my original G1 toys. I will concede that I would have liked the plastic to feel a little heavier. The toy doesn’t feel delicate, but it doesn’t have a lot of heft to it for its size, making it feel closer to a model than an actual Transformers toy.  Nonetheless, it is a beautiful update to the original vehicle. I’m probably not alone when I say how much I appreciate the addition of the side view mirror stalks. They’re soft, bendy plastic so as not to snap off, and they really add to the improved credibility of the vehicle mode.

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I started off this feature talking about the horrible paint on my Lambor. Naturally, I was really nervous when I first sized up the Prowl’s paintwork, and I’m happy to say it’s infinitely improved over Lambor. The white is bright and crisp and the black has a rich and glossy finish to it. The lettering is sharp and there are no embarrassing spelling mistakes that appeared on early shots of the toy. Even the Autobot insignia on the hood is crisp and straight. That’s not to say, however, the paint is perfect or even as good as it should be. The passenger side panel near the rear window has some excess paint swirl and there’s some slight bleeding between the white and black. There’s also a small chip to the white on the upper driver side windshield. This last bit worries me, as the roof of the car is clear plastic painted white and will likely be very prone to chipping if not handled carefully. None of these points are enough to ruin the car as badly as my Lambor’s horrific paint, but it is still certainly disappointing to see on a collectible toy this expensive. Had this been the first MP release I’d seen I would probably be more outraged, but I guess the terrible paint on Lambor really tempered my expectations.

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Prowl’s gun can clip into a slot in the back of the lightbar to give him some firepower while in his alt mode. It’s pretty goofy looking and I can’t see myself ever utilizing the feature, but it doesn’t detract from the toy and some collectors may dig having the option to display it this way. While attached, the gun can even pivot up and down a bit.

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Paint flubs aside, I’m very happy with Prowl’s vehicle mode. I think it’s perfectly sized, it holds together beautifully, and it looks great in all the most important places. I’m going to break here, but I’ll be back tomorrow to get my new buddy Prowl all transformed so we can check out his alt mode.

 

6 comments on “Transformers: Masterpiece Prowl (MP-17) by Takara, Part 1

  1. OK, I read. Clear plastic roof huh? Same flaw as original and Generations Prowl, most disappointing. I think in absence of rubber tires or any die-cast parts, he could have used some chrome somewhere, like the weapons.

    But like you I love Prowl and that’s why I chose him from the three, You would probably enjoy his role in the G1 comic. After the (second) death of Prime,, leadership is handed down to Grimlock, and Prowl serves as his advisor and right hand man. But they clash frequently over Grimlock’s decisions, and they have absolutely no love at all for each other. It is a great character dynamic that Furman realized.

  2. Is that in the Regeneration continuation of the old Marvel comic? I’m reading in trades so I’m quite far behind on all of them. I’m caught up with the TPB releases of MTMTE and I’m only two TBSs into Robots in Disguise. Haven’t read any Regeneration yet.

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