I’m back today to wrap up my look at Takara’s Masterpiece Prowl. His vehicle mode is quite nice, but how about his robot mode? Well, transforming him is fairly simple (at least for a Masterpiece toy) and remarkably similar to the basic transformation of the original G1 toy. There’s just a little more engineering added to help out his proportions and his added articulation. The new steps that are the most conspicuous involve folding in the panels with the rearview mirror stalks, unfolding the legs from the back of the car, and shifting some more pieces to become the feet. The shoulder cannons store on his back inside the car roof, very similar to the ones on Universe 2.0 Prowl. Like I said, it’s the same basic transformation from the G1 era with just a few added enhancements. I found it wasn’t uncommon for the arms to pop out of the shoulder ball joints during the change, but when you’re done everything locks together quite well and you have a solid action figure that looks like this…
Yes, Prowl’s robot mode is drop dead gorgeous! I’ve always considered this design to be my favorite of all the Autobot forms and MP-17 pulls it off with great aplomb. I’m particularly happy with the way the torso locks up front and back. You also have a choice as to whether you want to have his doors go straight out for a G1 toy accurate look, or angle upward for a more cartoon or comic accurate look. Brilliant! The proportions are beautiful and ever since I’ve placed him on the shelf across from my desk, I can’t help but stop and admire his beauty from time to time.
But before we start looking at some particulars, it’s worth noting that upon first transforming him, I found that Takara’s shitty QC struck my figure in a most cruel way. He had a huge black scar on his chin from where silver paint had been scratched away. It was an odd defacement (Har! Har!) because there’s really nowhere that the face rubs against anything else in the transformation. But our friends at the Chinese factory thought nothing of it and packed him away to ship to poor, disappointed FigureFan. They might as well have just taken a shit in the box as well. Fortunately, this was a pretty easy fix, even for someone like me with no customizing skills at all. The repair is still visible on a close-up picture, but without zooming in with a camera, you have to look really, really close to see that there was ever a problem. That’s good enough for me!
Yes, it is inherently wrong to have to do touch up work on my $80 figure, especially when none of my third-party transforming robots have had any similar problems, but with Takara’s spotty QC on these figures, I’m just happy that it’s all it needed. I’d like to say it’s going to give me pause about buying the other Datsuns, but truth be told, once they turn up In Stock at the retailers, I will likely throw the dice again.
I think most would agree that Prowl is just about perfect from the waist up, with only the exposed screw in the back of his head being an annoyance. If there are any real gripes to be had, it’ll likely be with the feet. Yes, they are hollow, but thanks to some clever plate placement, they don’t really look it from the front or the sides. The fact you can see open compartments in the back of the feet and the lower legs may be a legitimate complaint for a Masterpiece figure, but it’s not one that I’m going to have, not when everything else on this figure works so well.
One of my favorite things about Prowl is the ability to stow the shoulder cannons inside his back, just like the Universe 2.0 figure. Keep in mind that this is a little bit of a back-handed compliment, because I don’t think the cannons look that great. They feel kind of cheap and they’re just bare white plastic. They’re also showing some mold flashing. I won’t deny that it’s nice to have an option to display them, but my Prowl will be going sans-cannon most of the time. I do think they will look much better on the other figures where they will be painted, or at least molded in colored plastic.
Articulation! Prowl sports plenty of great articulation. The neck is ball jointed and offers a great range of motion. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, swivel at the biceps, and have double hinged elbows. The hands swivel at the wrist and the knuckle is hinged so that all the fingers move as one. His legs have universal movement at the hips, including swivels, his knees are double hinged, and his ankles are hinged and have rockers to help with those wide stances. Last up, Prowl can pivot at the wrist. The joints are all tight and since the Prowl’s robot mode locks together so well, he feels more like an action figure than your typical Transformer. Very nice! He’s tons of fun to play with and a very hard figure to put down.
As mentioned last time, Prowl comes with his trusty gun. It has a peg that secures it to his hand, so that once you have it pegged in and the fingers closed around it, he can hold it with a firm grasp. He can also comfortably hold it in both hands, which is likely the pose he will have on my shelf most of the time.
If the goal of the Masterpiece line is to produce a figure that portrays the essence of the character both in its classic animated and toy forms, then MP-17 is an absolute and unbridled success. The transformation represents some nearly flawless engineering and both the auto and robot modes are things of beauty. From a design standpoint, I can find no fault with this figure at all. It’s only in the quality control and the fact that he feels a bit more like a $30 Alternator than he does an $80 Masterpiece figure. If you demand diecast, rubber tires, and perfect paint, then you may find Prowl lacking. Me? I’m not going to quibble, and if you’re luckier than me and you get one with no QC issues, than all should be well. It’s just a shame to me that when Takara reaches this level of perfection in design and engineering that they let the line continue to be marred by poor paint quality issues. I’m at the point now that I will happily purchase figures from companies like Fansproject, TFC and MMC without a thought of worry about QC problems, but a new official Masterpiece figure from Takara? I’m still afraid to open the box.